Politics
FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2011 file photo, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., talks to the media before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2011 file photo, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., talks to the media before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)  

GOP senator slams USDA for not answering questions on policies contributing to record food stamp use

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

He slammed the USDA for failing to provide his office with updates about his most recent request for information and claimed that the agency is not even working on an answer.

“Last I heard [Vilsack] worked for the American people. So do I. And one of my jobs is to make sure the American people’s money is well spent and I am asking him how he is spending our money! And he does not want to respond,” Sessions continued.

The senator’s October letter further requested more information about the department’s partnership with the Mexican government to promote nutrition assistance among new immigrants, its interpretation of the federal distinction “public charge” as it applies to SNAP and other USDA-administered programs, and how many people USDA want to enroll in the program if they meet their participation goals.

“What I sense is that when you ask questions about it, you are treated like someone who doesn’t care about people who are hungry — who do need our help and we want to help — when all we are asking is, can’t we do it better?” He said, going on to promise he will use all the tools at his disposal in the Senate to wring answers out of the department.

In his last letter to Sessions in early fall, Vilsack assured the senator that the department is not simply trying to grow the food stamp rolls but rather ensure that people who are eligible are educated about the program.

“We do not pressure any eligible person to accept benefits, nor is our goal to simply increase the number of program participants, but we are determined to help people in need make informed decisions about whether or not to seek assistance for which they may be eligible,” the agriculture secretary wrote.

The Daily Caller has reached out to USDA for further comment.

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