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 PerdueTrump administration finalizes plan to open up protected areas of Tongass National Forest to logging  Perdue has found the right path in National Forests Democrats seek clarity on payroll tax deferral for federal workers 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 TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick 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.