Trump administration eyes tighter food stamp restrictions

The Trump administration is set to roll out a new proposal on Thursday that would impose stricter work requirements on a segment of Americans who receive federal food stamps. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) proposal would expand work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), according to The Associated Press. The new rule would restrict states' ability to exempt work-eligible adults from having to get steady employment in order to get federal food assistance. 

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“The president has directed me to propose regulatory reforms to ensure those who are able to work do so in exchange for their benefits,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueAgriculture Department's relocation of ERS and NIFA: A solution in search of a problem This is not the way to move USDA agencies out of Washington American farmers can't afford this administration's climate apathy MORE said in a call with the media on Wednesday, according to AP.

“We would much rather have Congress enact these important reforms for the SNAP program. However, these regulatory changes by the USDA will save hardworking taxpayers $15 billion over 10 years and give President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE comfort enough to support a farm bill he might otherwise have opposed.”

The AP notes that the move from the Trump administration comes only weeks after lawmakers passed a farm bill that barely touched the SNAP program. 

The program serves about 40 million Americans, according to the news service.

Under the current guidelines, abled-bodied adults between 18 and 49 without children are mandated to work 20 hours a week in order to receive SNAP benefits. In addition, non-disabled, working-age adults without dependents can only receive three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year period if they don’t meet the 20-hour work week requirement.

But states with a 10 percent unemployment rate and a demonstrated lack of sufficient jobs are able to waive those requirements. 

The proposal from the USDA includes firmer restrictions, including a rule forcing states to only offer a waiver to a city or county that has an unemployment rate of 7 percent or higher, according to AP.