On December 19, 2009, the President signed the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010 (Pub. L. 111-118), which included a provision affecting the poverty guidelines. Section 1012 of the law states that:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall not publish updated poverty guidelines for 2010 under section 673(2) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 (42 U.S.C. 9902(2)) before March 1, 2010, and the poverty guidelines published under such section on January 23, 2009, shall remain in effect until updated poverty guidelines are published.
The Congressional Record (House) (December 16, 2009, p. H15370) provides the following explanation of Congressional action:
Section 1012 includes a provision to freeze the Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines at 2009 levels in order to prevent a reduction in eligibility for certain means-tested programs, including Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and child nutrition, through March 1, 2010.
For the first time since the poverty guidelines began to be issued in 1965, the annual average Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) has decreased from the figure for the previous year. In the absence of this legislative change, the decrease in the annual average CPI-U for 2009 announced on January 15, 2010 (see http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cpi.pdf [PDF – 25 pages], Table 1A) would have required HHS to issue 2010 poverty guidelines that were lower than the 2009 poverty guidelines, which would have led to the “reduction in eligibility” referred to in the Congressional explanatory language.
A Federal Register notice about this extension of the 2009 poverty guidelines was published on January 22, 2010. (See Federal Register, Vol. 75, No. 14, January 22, 2010, pp. 3734-3735.) We will provide updated information about the post-March 1 period when it becomes available.
The immigration effect of this is that the amount of money required for the affidavit of support would be lower than in 2009, but as the new figures are not released the figures are artificially higher to support other political/economic objectives.