July 23 (UPI) -- The Trump administration has announced plans to close a loophole that allows Americans with higher incomes get access to food stamps.
Forty states have streamlined food stamp applications to raise the income threshold and asset test, which favors those participating in other welfare programs. The rule change would make it so only Americans who receive welfare benefits worth $50 or more would automatically qualify.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said closing the loophole would save $2.5 billion a year in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the official name of the food stamp program.
"For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines," Perdue said. "That is why we are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it."
The federal government pays for food stamps, but the programs are administered at the state level.
Critics of the proposal said the current rules help low-income working Americans, especially if they're paying for child care or healthcare.
Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the chamber's agriculture committee, said the Trump administration is attempting to circumvent Congress with the rule change.
"This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals and make it harder for states to administer food assistance," she said.