The Obama administration threatened to cut Maine’s food stamp funding on Thursday over its law requiring welfare recipients to show their photo ID when receiving their taxpayer-funded benefits.
In a letter to Maine officials, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the food stamp program, said the state’s law could be a civil rights violation and may have a “chilling effect” on individuals seeking food stamps.
“Any individual who applies for SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] on behalf of eligible household members must be able to access the program without fear,” said the USDA’s letter.
Maine officials rejected the Obama administration’s logic.
“We do not believe that a policy putting photos on EBT cards has a ‘chilling effect’ on their appropriate use any more than putting photos on drivers licenses has a ‘chilling effect’ on driving,” said Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew.
Mayhew added, “The fed’s objective in coming to Maine was nothing more than an attempt to undermine our ongoing efforts to reduce fraud, waste and abuse in welfare programs.”
How much of Maine’s annual $360 million food stamp funding the Obama administration is threatening to cut remains unclear.