President Donald Trump may tell congressional leaders that he will veto a farm bill that doesn’t include toughened work requirements for those on food stamps.
The fight over how to best help people off of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, and sustain themselves through work is heating up in Congress, and Trump is considering drawing a line in the sand, two people close to Trump told The Wall Street Journal.
Adding work requirements to the food stamps program “is a priority and it is something he’ll be encouraging,” White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said, but added it’s “way too early” for a veto threat.
Food stamps have already made the next farm bill, the spending authorization for the U.S. Department of Agriculture which includes everything from food stamps to corn subsidies, a contentious piece of legislation.
House Democrats halted negotiations over the bill briefly in March over concerns about gutting food stamps, and in the Senate, which has not released a proposed bill yet, Agriculture Committee chairman Sen. Pat Roberts doubts he will be able to pass the House bill does to nutrition welfare.
“I know we can’t do what the House has done with regards to nutrition,” Roberts said Wednesday of the farm bill’s chances. “If you don’t get 60 votes, this whole conversation is moot.”
In some ways the White House is looking to change the goal of nutrition programs from feeding as many Americans as possible to helping families get off of welfare.
“Success in SNAP should not be measured by how many people enroll, but by how the program supports and enables a participant’s return to self-sufficiency” Brandon Lipps, USDA deputy undersecretary for nutrition, told a House panel Wednesday. Expanded work requirements would be part of that effort, but providing work opportunities and training would also cost a lot of money in administrative costs.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated May 3 that the proposed House bill would not save that much money in nutrition spending. Changes to eligibility for food stamps and additional work requirements for certain recipients would save about $9.2 billion over the next decade, but the program’s administrative costs would increase by $7.7 billion.
The additional work requirements the House proposes would affect between 5 million and 7 million out of the more than 40 million people on food stamps, but the administration believes there are far more people who could be working but aren’t.
“There are approximately 15 million working age (18-59) non-disabled adults on SNAP,” Lipps said. “Of these, over nine million are not working. We can and we should do better. We must work to reduce barriers to employment and hold both individuals and States accountable for participants getting and maintaining jobs.”
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