House to Vote Next Week on Farm Bill that Includes Work Requirements for Food Stamps

food stamps / snap
U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

The House will vote next week on a Farm bill that, if passed, would impose work requirements on food stamp recipients.

The Farm bill includes provisions that would implement work requirements on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, recipients.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conoway (R-TX) in an exclusive interview on Breitbart News detailed his plan to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in the food stamp program.

Conaway’s bill would require roughly 8.8 percent of food stamp recipients, or four million Americans, to spend roughly 80 hours per month working, looking for work, or obtaining job training to continue receiving SNAP benefits.

Rep. Conaway told Breitbart News Sunday:

This is an effort to reform the SNAP program. Our food stamps and SNAP program is really important, we spend a lot of money on it, and we need to make it as good as we can for the beneficiaries. There’s a group that we are not talking about. That group is the elderly, children under 18, mentally and physically disabled. Their SNAP issues will not be changed one iota. The group we’re talking about is the 18 to 59-year-old work-capable person who needs to take care of themselves, and we’re going to help them in the meantime with SNAP benefits while they’re working and training, education, and tools to get themselves on that on-ramp to success and opportunities to break that cycle of poverty. It’s coming at a great time in our economy. The economy is growing and expanding, the tax bill we did in December is taking effect, obviously, and more jobs are being created.

“This is an opportunity to help people who want to help themselves. Most Americans are very supportive of that idea,” Conaway added.

Chairman Conaway continued, explaining to Breitbart News Sunday hosts Matthew Boyle and Amanda House how the bill will help cut down on waste, fraud, and abuse in SNAP.

Conaway said:

On the fiscal conservative side, we are going through waste, fraud, and abuse and program integrity to make sure that just the folks that are supposed to be on there are on there. We got several steps in that regard. Under current law, 42 states are gaming the system to allow people to be on SNAP that don’t qualify. The basic qualifications is if you make 130 percent above the poverty line or less; we got a lot of folks in those 42 states that are making 165 to 200 percent of poverty on SNAP, and that’s not right, it should be at the 130 percent peg. We also improve the asset test. We allow every family account should have a savings account, opportunity to fall back with unexpected expenses. We allow families to accumulate with a savings account that does not count against them.

A new survey from the Foundation for Government Accountability revealed that more than 82 percent of Americans, including 94 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of Democrats, support work requirements for food stamp recipients.

Despite Americans’ overwhelming support of the idea, Conaway told Breitbart News Sunday that his Democrat colleagues continue to oppose work requirements for food stamps.

Conaway revealed to Boyle and House:

My Democrat colleagues, four weeks ago, basically told me the SNAP changes are non-negotiable: they do not want any changes whatsoever. They went to the sidelines. It’s pretty frustrating, pretty disappointing to see the work we’ve done in Committee, in a bipartisan way too, for three years, for them to suddenly go to the sideline.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the Democratic minority whip, said that his party will continue to oppose work requirements for food stamps.

Hoeyer said, “We will be spinning our wheels to send an ideological message to constituents who want to undercut the ability to ensure that people have food that are hungry.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said on the House floor on Thursday, “This important bill will re-authorize farm and nutrition assistance programs for five years, while making reforms to modernizing key programs and better support rural America.”

The Farm bill also faces other political obstacles, with Rep. Virginia Foxx’s (R-NC) proposed reform of the federal sugar program. Foxx, a member of the House Rules Committee, proposed an amendment that would prevent federal bailouts for the sugar industry. However, some Republicans cautioned against the idea, contending that the amendment might sink the bill’s chances of passing through the House.

Rep. Ted Yoho, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, said, “We prefer they don’t support it, because if they do, it throws the farm bill in jeopardy.”

Speaker Paul Ryan signaled support for the bill, however, suggested that his highest priority is passing the Farm bill.

“I’ve long had views that the sugar program needs reforming, but what I am most interested in is getting a farm bill passed into law,” Ryan said on Thursday.

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