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Reproduced from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals

The federal government spent $8.55 billion on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits last month, a 62% increase from what it spent just two months earlier in March, new analysis from the Peterson Foundation shows.

Details: The coronavirus pandemic increased federal spending on the program by an average of 28% per month in April and May, nearly double the largest monthly growth seen during the Great Recession.

  • The only other time SNAP spending has grown nearly as fast was around February 2019, when benefits for that month were advanced to prepare for a government shutdown.

What it means: The growth reflects an increased need for food stamps and government assistance as well as legislative changes, like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which was signed into law on March 18, analysts at Peterson Foundation note.

The FFCRA:

  • Introduced the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT), which provides benefits to families with children that rely on free or reduced-price school meals.
  • Allows states to increase maximum benefits to all households through Emergency Allotments.
  • Suspends the work and work training requirements for able-bodied adults.
  • The Congressional Budget Office estimated that those changes will increase program costs by $10.4 billion and $10.8 billion in fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2021, respectively.

Go deeper

Sep 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus unveils $2 trillion coronavirus bill

Rep. Josh Gottheimer joined by other members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, unveils the March to Common Ground proposal, Sept. 15. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A bipartisan group of 50 House members known as the Problem Solvers Caucus unveiled a roughly $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill on Tuesday amid frustration with congressional and White House leaders for failing to deliver desperately needed aid to Americans.

Why it matters: The legislation, which is widely viewed as unpassable, is a last-ditch effort by centrist lawmakers to force party leaders back to the negotiating table before the November election.

Dave Lawler, author of World
37 mins ago - World

Biden's blinking red lights: Taiwan, Ukraine and Iran

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Russia is menacing Ukraine’s borders, China is sending increasingly ominous signals over Taiwan and Iran is accelerating its uranium enrichment to unprecedented levels.

The big picture: Ukraine, Taiwan and Iran’s nuclear program always loomed large on the menu of potential crises President Biden could face. But over the last several days, the lights have been blinking red on all three fronts all at once.

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Skripal poisoning suspects linked to Czech blast, as country expels 18 Russians

Combined images released by British police in 2018 of Alexander Petrov (L) and Ruslan Boshirov, who are suspected of carrying out an attack in the in the southern English city of Salisbury using Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, and also the2014 Czech depot explosion. Photo: Metropolitan Police via Getty Images

Czech police on Saturday connected two Russian men suspected of carrying out a poisoning attack in Salisbury, England, with a deadly ammunition depot explosion southeast of the capital, Prague, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Czech officials announced Saturday they're expelling 18 Russian diplomats they accuse of being involved in the blast in Vrbětice, AP notes. Czech police said later they're searching for two men carrying several passports — including two with the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.