The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed a new rule Thursday that would make it harder for states to waive work requirements for some food stamp recipients. The proposal comes after stricter work requirements were stripped from the farm bill President Trump is expected to sign this week.
Currently, states can waive the rule that requires “able-bodied adults without dependents” in areas that have high unemployment to work in order to receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The proposed rule would restrict waivers to areas that have unemployment rates over 7 percent.
The proposed rule change would affect about 755,000 people who live in areas that could lose their waivers. Roughly 3.8 million able-bodied adults without dependents received SNAP benefits in 2016, the Department of Agriculture said in a fact sheet accompanying the proposal, with about 2.8 million of them not working.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the rule change could reduce SNAP spending by $15 billion over 10 years, while restoring “the dignity of work to a sizeable segment of our population.”
Opposing the proposal, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who sits on the Senate agriculture committee, said, “Administrative changes should not be driven by ideology. I do not support unilateral and unjustified changes that would take food away from families.”