The Trump administration is setting out to do what this year’s farm bill did not: tighten work demands for millions of People in America who receive federal food assistance.The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday is proposing a rule which would limit the ability of states to exempt work eligible adults from having to get stable job to receive food stamps.
The move comes just weeks after lawmakers passed a $400 billion farm bill that reauthorized agriculture and conservation programs while still leaving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which serves approximately 40 million Americans, nearly untouched.
Passage of the Farm Bill followed months of tense negotiations over House efforts to significantly tighten work requirements and the Senate’s refusal to accept the provisions.
Presently, able bodied adults ages 18-49 without kids are required to work 20 hours a week to keep their SNAP benefits. The house bill will have increased the age of recipients subject to work requirements from 49 to 59 and demanded parents with kids older than 6 to work or participate in job training. Also, the Chamber’s of Representatives measure also sought to limit conditions under which households that qualify for other poverty programs could automatically be eligible for SNAP.
Work eligible able bodied adults without dependents, known as ABAWD, may now receive only 3 months of SNAP advantages in a 3 year period if they do not meet the 20 hour work requirement.
States are also allowed to grant benefit extensions for 15 percent of their work eligible adult population without a waiver. If a country doesn’t utilize its 15%, it could bank the exemptions to disperse afterwards, creating what Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue referred to as a stockpile.
The USDA’s proposed rule will strip states capability to issue waivers unless a town or county has an unemployment rate of 7 percent or higher. The waivers will be good for one year and will need the governor to support the request. States will no longer be capable to bank their 15 percent exemptions.
The rule would forbid states from granting waivers for geographic areas larger than a specific jurisdiction.
The president has directed me to propose regulatory reforms to make sure those have the ability to work do so in exchange for their benefits. We’d much rather have Congress enact these important reforms to the SNAP program. Nevertheless, these regulatory changes by the United States Department of Agriculture will conserve hardworking taxpayers $15 billion over 10 years and give President Trump comfort enough to encourage a farm bill he would otherwise have opposed.
The United States Department of Agriculture in Feb solicited public comment on ways to reform SNAP, also Perdue has voiced support for scaling back the program.
The Trump administration’s effort, while celebrated by some conservatives, has been met with critique from advocates who state tightening constraints will result in more vulnerable Americans, including kids, going hungry.
A Brookings Institute study published this summer said more stringent work requirements are very likely to hurt people who are already part of the workforce, but whose use is sporadic. House of Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway, R Texas, was the primary champion for tighter SNAP work requirements in the House farm bill.
The top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow, of Michigan, who along with its Republican chairman, crafted the bipartisan Senate bill without any changes to SNAP, blasted the Trump administration for its attempt to restrict the program.