Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is being called out for suggesting that her family might have starved when she was younger under a new welfare rule announced by the Trump administration this week.
Under the current law, work-eligible adults without dependents under the age of 50 can only get three months of Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits (also referred to as SNAP or food stamps) over a three-year period if they don't meet a work requirement of 20 hours per week. The new rule — which the Department of Agriculture announced on Wednesday — restricts states' ability to exempt work-eligible people from the work requirements via waivers.
On Thursday evening, Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to criticize the rule saying that her family relied on food stamps after her father's untimely passing at age 48 and how this rule might have impacted them.
"If this happened then, we might've just starved," the congresswoman tweeted. "Now, many people will. It's shameful how the GOP works overtime to create freebies for the rich while dissolving lifelines of those who need it most. "
The issue with her assertion? The new work requirement regulations don't apply to people with dependents, as the Heritage Foundation pointed out in response.
"The rule applies to able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who do not have dependents," the conservative think tank tweeted. "The rule wouldn't apply to parents with minor children, the elderly, or disabled people."
At the time of her father's death in 2008, Ocasio-Cortez was a 19 year-old college sophomore, and she likely would have been claimed as a dependent by her mother at the time, Fox News points out. She also has a younger brother, Gabriel.
Patricia Lee Onwuka, a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women's forum, also rebuked the freshman House member for her assertion in a blog post that says the rule change "is a reasonable and targeted reform" and "preserves our social safety net is reserved for truly needy Americans."
In addition to the list of people exempted from the regulatory change, Onwuka also pointed out that able-bodied adults who don't have any dependents and want to keep receiving benefits past the three-month window need only fulfill the part-time work requirement in order to do so.