A new rule the Trump administration is putting in place pertaining to work requirements may eliminate SNAP (Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits for hundreds of thousands of recipients.
Under this rule, it would be difficult for states to waive a requirement that able-bodied adults without children work at least 20 hours a week or else lose their benefits, NPR reports.
The rule is aimed at encouraging SNAP recipients, who are able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents, to get jobs, according to the administration, NPR reports.
“We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand, but not allowing it to become an infinitely giving hand,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a press release, NPR reports. “Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work.”
The changes could potentially save nearly $5 billion over five years, but anti-hunger advocates worry it will hurt low-income individuals who can’t find steady work, according to NPR.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, SNAP lifts millions of low-income African-Americans out of poverty and helps them afford an adequate diet. On average, the poverty rate among African-Americans is almost two times greater than that of the general U.S. population. In 2016, approximately $20 billion in SNAP benefits — about 30 percent of the total — went to African-American households.
“The rule restores the system to what Congress intended: assistance through difficult times, not a way of life,” Perdue said in the press release, NPR reports.
“There’s a reason Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly rejected this callous proposal in the Farm Bill and instead focused on bipartisan job training opportunities that actually help families find good paying jobs,” Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, who criticized the rule, said in a statement, NPR reports.
House Agriculture Committee ranking member K. Michael Conaway praised the decision to move forward with the rule while acknowledging that many SNAP recipients are unable to work because they are either disabled or serving as primary caregivers for relatives, NPR reports.
In a statement, Conaway said, “But for those whose situations allow it, employment is a chance to regain dignity and purpose, and contribute to our economy and society.”
The new rule is slated to take effect on April 1, 2020, NPR reports.
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