The Trump administration wants Congress to implement additional work requirements for food stamp recipients.
On Wednesday, the Department of Agriculture released a document detailing what principles should be part of any farm legislation Congress comes up with.
In the document, USDA noted that it supports “work as the pathway to self-sufficiency, well-being, and economic mobility for individuals and families receiving supplemental nutrition assistance.”
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Speaking Wednesday at an event on a farm near Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue discussed the importance of increased work requirements. He said the Trump administration is trying to discourage a “lifestyle” of dependence on the federal government.
“It’s evident that there are able-bodied adults without dependents who are on the food stamp program, who we believe it is in their best interests, and their families’ best interests, to move into an independent lifestyle,” Perdue told reporters, according to Bloomberg News.
“During the last downturn, it became a lifestyle for some people. We don’t want it to become permanent.”
The Trump administration did not say whether it plans to cut funds for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which covers roughly 46.5 million people.
But work requirements could be one way to save money under the farm legislation outlined by the USDA.
In 2015, the department said that 57 percent of working-age adult SNAP recipients either had a job or were seeking to find one, while 22 percent claimed they could not work because of a disability, the Washington Examiner reported.
The Trump administration has previously taken steps to cut dependence on welfare programs.
In August 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services ended an Obama administration policy that allowed states to exempt poor people from having to prove they were either looking for a job or getting trained to do a particular task.
“The waiver option offered by the Obama administration is being replaced today by an expectation that work should always be encouraged as a condition for receiving welfare,” said Steven Wagner, the department’s acting assistant secretary for children and families.
Moreover, earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it would allow states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients.
“Medicaid needs to be more flexible so that states can best address the needs of this population. Our fundamental goal is to make a positive and lasting difference in the health and wellness of our beneficiaries, and today’s announcement is a step in that direction,” said agency administrator Seema Verma, according to CNN.
But this move prompted backlash, with three consumer advocacy groups filing a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday after Kentucky became the first state to require many of its Medicaid recipients to work in order to receive benefits.
About 75 million people nationwide are covered by Medicaid.
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