Republicans Push for Tighter Work Requirements for Food Stamps

Republicans Push for Tighter Work Requirements for Food Stamps


A group of Republicans in the House plan to release a bill Tuesday that would make it harder for some adults to claim benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps. Participation in the program jumped significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic, though the emergency measures put in place in 2020 have recently come to an end.

The GOP bill would expand the age range for those who are considered able-bodied adults without dependents, and thus subject to work requirements. Currently, the rules require childless adults aged 18 to 49 to work or be involved with training or education at least 80 hours a month in order to qualify for benefits; the bill would raise the upper end of the age range for that group to 65, subjecting more people to work requirements and thereby reducing overall participation.

The bill would also make it harder for states to waive work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries — a loophole that Republicans say is being abused in some states.

Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), the member of the House Agriculture Committee who will introduce the bill, told Politico that he wants to encourage more people to work. “We know that work is the only path out of poverty,” he said.

Democrats, who point out that most SNAP participants are already working, are expected to resist the effort to clamp down on the nutrition assistance program, but reportedly have not yet settled on a strategy. “We need to be prepared for a showdown on food security — and right now, we’re not ready,” one House Democrat told Politico.

The bottom line: Nutritional aid could become a bargaining chip in the expected showdown over raising the federal debt limit and the budget battles ahead. Johnson’s bill is expected to be the first in a series from GOP lawmakers who are seeking to rework the food assistance program within the next farm bill, part of a larger effort to slash federal spending by reducing support for low-income households.