The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a waiver in July allowing 55 out of California’s 58 counties to be exempt from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s work requirements.
Breitbart News reported that able-bodied adults, between the ages of 18 and 49, without dependents, are usually required to work to recieve SNAP — often referred to as “food stamps.”
“The current SNAP statute requires that able-bodied working-age adults without dependents work at least 80 hours per month (or an average of 20 hours per week),” according to Breitbart.
However, current law creates a waiver for states if they meet certain unemployment requirements, including a recent average unemployment rate 20 percent or higher above the national average.
California applied for a waiver to exempt most its counties from work requirements using fiscal year data from 2015 to 2017, stating that from April 2015 to March 2017, the unemployment rate average in 55 of its counties was 5.9 percent, which barely reached the “20 percent or above” threshold.
As of July, the Golden State’s unemployment rate was 4.2 percent, or 8 percent above the national average of 3.9 percent.
In June, the House narrowly passed a farm bill (213-211), which stiffens the work requirements for SNAP nationwide, NPR reported.
Every Democrat opposed the farm bill over the proposed changes.
“The measure restricts who is eligible to receive aid and also requires millions of Americans who receive food through government assistance to work 20 hours per week, enroll in job training programs or be cut off from those benefits,” according to NPR.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, described the work requirements for eligibility for SNAP as “really important” in a video posted by the Agricultural Committee.
“What we need to do is make sure if there are jobs out there, which there are for people, we ought to make sure that people are getting into the workforce,” he said. “And we put really good work requirements in place to help people get off food stamps and back into the workforce so they can become part of the American dream.”
In late June, the Senate rejected the work requirement provision on a 68-30 vote and passed its own version of the farm bill without that language.
As of May, 39.3 million Americans were enrolled in the SNAP program, which is a reduction of 3.4 million since President Donald Trump took office.
While California is seeking to exempt SNAP recipients from the need to seek gainful employment for an additional year, Michigan just strengthened its work requirement.
The Detroit Free Press reported that all able-bodied adults between 18 and 49 will be required to work in order to apply for benefits.
Those currently receiving benefits will have three months from the date of their annual review to obtain work or they will not longer be eligible for SNAP.
Work includes either 20 hours or more per week in a paying job; participating in an approved job training program for 20 hours or more per week or participating in a community service for a non-profit organization.
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