The Trump administration issued a proposal on Thursday calling for stricter work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – colloquially known as food stamps – after Congress failed to do so earlier this month.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposal would limit the ways states are able to exempt able-bodied adults without dependents from work requirements. That includes limiting waivers – often granted to states with scarce jobs or high unemployment rates – and the ability to “stockpile” benefit extensions that go unused.
Currently, most Americans between the ages of 18 and 49 are required to work at least 20 hours per week in order to qualify for the program.
Lawmakers passed a farm bill earlier this month, where stricter work requirements were omitted as a compromise between Republicans and Democrats. The proposal put forth by the House – and supported by Trump – would have forced states to stipulate that recipients between the ages of 49 and 59, and those with children above the age of 6, work in order to receive federal assistance. The final bill – expected to be signed on Thursday by Trump – left SNAP untouched.
The president signed an executive order earlier this year focusing on ways to beef up SNAP work requirements.
The administration has communicated its intent to ween people off of welfare – and weed out freeloaders – by putting Americans back to work.
As of January, states have also been allowed to implement a work requirement for Medicaid.
As of August, more than 38 million low-income individuals participated in SNAP, according to preliminary data from the program’s website. The average benefit per person is about $123.50.