The food stamp program has work requirements for what the US government defines as “able-bodied adults without dependents,” meaning young workers who are not disabled and do not have children or other dependents.
But a group of Republican lawmakers say stricter work requirements are needed to close the gap, as well as for older workers to receive food stamps in exchange for their benefits.
On Tuesday, Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota and more than 20 other Republican lawmakers introduced a bill called the American Jobs Act that would end the waiver program that allows states to bypass work requirements for some of their residents. Eighteen states currently use a waiver that exempts residents from work requirements, lawmakers said in a statement.
The bill also requires older workers to prove they have a job or are in a training program to qualify for food stamps. Currently, able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who do not have children must work 20 hours a week or enroll in a work-study program to receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Program, or SNAP, its official name. food stamp program.
But the bill would raise that requirement for people under 65, which lawmakers said would match Medicare, the health insurance program for Americans 65 and older.
Pre-pandemic data showed that 1.4 million adults without dependents “had zero gross income, meaning they did not work at all,” the lawmakers said. That’s about 3% of the 42.6 million people who received food stamps in December, the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Work is the best way out of poverty,” Johnson said in a statement. “Work requirements are effective, people who can work should work.”
On Twitter, Johnson noted that her family received SNAP benefits as a child, saying she was “a testament to the rewards of hard work.”
Adding additional work requirements comes at a difficult time for many low-income households in 32 states. cutting food stamp benefits what are some experts this month called “hunger rock”.
The cuts, which will result in an average loss of $82 per person in monthly SNAP benefits, will affect more than 30 million people receiving food stamps in those states, and inflation will remain very high, with food costs more than 10% higher. a year ago according to the latest inflation data.
SNAP has often been criticized by Republican lawmakers who have introduced it in recent years similar laws strengthening work requirements for recipients. The The Trump administration sought to strengthen work requirements.
The latest proposal should be rejected, the Center for Budget and Policy Recommendations (CBPP) said in a report on Wednesday. Most adults under 65 who receive SNAP benefits are already working or in temporary employment, the left-leaning think tank noted.
People who don’t work on food stamps often have unpaid care for children or elderly family members, attend school or are out of work due to health issues, CBPP said. According to the group, the addition of tape to food aid means some eligible people may fall off the rolls because of the added hurdles.
“The rationale for work requirements is based on false assumptions that people on benefits do not work and should be forced to do so,” CBPP said. “These assumptions are based on stereotypes based on race, gender, disability status, and class.”
With Democrats controlling the Senate, the Republican bill is unlikely to become law. Still, the effort reflects GOP lawmakers’ desire to cut spending on benefit programs like food stamps.