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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.

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker