CDR Joins with 50 National and State Organizations to Endorse Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) Bill – The Removing Barriers to Basic Needs Act (H.R. 7916)

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Dara Baldwin

The Center for Disability Rights (CDR) is a member of a number of coalitions who work on Justice Reform, where we work to eliminate the collateral consequences for those who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) are harmed by the criminal justice system at a much higher rate than other groups. We advocate for disabled people who have come in contact with the criminal justice system both inside and outside of jail, prison or detention centers. 

As part of this work we asked Congress to permanently repeal a harsh lifetime ban on those who are convicted with a drug felony conviction from being able to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). But as part of our work to include multi-marginalized communities in the possible COVID19 stimulus package #4 we asked Congress to repeal this ban during this horrific pandemic.

From one pager:

Background: In 1996, Congress imposed a lifetime ban on individuals convicted of a drug felony from receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) as a part of comprehensive “welfare reform.”

COVID-19 Package 4 Request: Congress should repeal the outdated, harsh, and counterproductive lifetime ban on individuals with a drug felony conviction from receiving SNAP and TANF or suspend the policy during the COVID-19 crisis.

From the press release:

Congresswoman Gwen Moore Would Expand Access to TANF and SNAP to Those Who Are Unfairly Shut Out of These Programs

Congresswoman Moore introduced the Removing Barriers to Basic Needs Act (H.R. 7916) to lift the federal ban on individuals with felony drug convictions being able to use Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through December 2022. In response, Congresswoman Moore released the following statement:

“In the midst of a pandemic, we need to remove outdated and needless barriers to assistance that folks desperately need. Our country is still grappling with the remnants of the ‘War on Drugs.’ People who have already served their time are still punished by an unjust system, which hinders their ability to access needed resources. And this permanent ban most affects women and the communities of color hit hardest by this deadly disease. 

Lifting this ban would help these individuals and their families to receive the stable support necessary to build a successful life after incarceration,” said Congresswoman Gwen Moore.  

The bill has been endorsed by over 50 national and state organizations including American Academy of HIV Medicine, Drug Policy Alliance, American Bar Association, Center for Disability Rights, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Legal Action Center, NAACP, National Association of Social Workers, National Council of Churches, The Daniel Initiative, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Union for Reform Judaism. 

To read the full press release click here.

The Removing Barriers to Basic Needs Act would lift the lifetime ban on individuals with a drug felony conviction from receiving SNAP and TANF during the pandemic. This ban will sunset – end in 2022. Which means that we still have to work on the permanent removal of this ban in federal law.

This is a ban on nutrition and some basic needs for individuals whom we are coming out of the system. We know that disabled people are a part of multiple communities as part of Intersectionality and therefore they are discriminated against in many ways for their multiple identities. CDR advocates for the full integration, independence, and civil rights of people with disabilities. This is for all people at all stages of their lives. We thank Rep. Moore (D-WI) for this thoughtful legislation and urge Congress to act quickly and pass this bill.

To see a list of all organizations endorsing this bill click here. 

For more information on this work contact Dara Baldwin, Director of National Policy-