Delayed for weeks by the partial federal shutdown, the Trump administration published its proposal to restrict states from allowing able-bodied adults to collect SNAP benefits for more than 90 days if they are not working at least 20 hours a week. The Federal Register notice ignited a campaign to block the proposal, which opponents said is contrary to the 2018 food and farm law.
In budget proposals in 2017 and 2018, President Trump tried to slash funding for SNAP by about $200 billion over 10 years — roughly one-fourth of its total funding. Now, with Trump close to unveiling his fiscal 2020 budget package, the “hunger community” is concerned about a renewed call for massive cuts.
Two of the major public nutrition programs, SNAP and WIC, could run out of money if the partial government shutdown persists into February and beyond, affecting millions of people. While the USDA says funding is assured for this month, it is not as clear about what to expect in the future.
When Democrats take control of the House today, one of their first steps will be the adoption of operating rules for the coming two years, including a provision that could lead to a court challenge to stricter time limits for SNAP benefits.
At the same time President Trump signed into law the 2018 farm bill, which modestly strengthens the farm safety net, loosens farm subsidy rules, and legalizes industrial hemp, he announced “immediate action on welfare reform” on Thursday through stricter enforcement of time limits on food stamps to able-bodied adults.
On Thursday, hours before President Trump was expected to sign the farm bill, the administration has proposed restricting the power of states to waive the usual 90-day limit on food stamps for able-bodied adults who do not work at least 20 hours a week.
The 2018 farm bill, which President Trump could sign into law as early as next week, is more than two months overdue, largely because of a fight over SNAP work requirements that led Rep. Collin Peterson to say, “I don’t know if we’re ever going to get another one done.” The past decade has provided ample reason for doubt.
United in a bipartisan embrace, the House sent the status-quo 2018 farm bill to President Trump after a landslide 369-47 vote on Wednesday, with only a few Republicans openly lamenting that the bill will not impose stricter work requirements for SNAP recipients.
After months as an ideological flashpoint, a toned-down farm bill is on track for bipartisan passage in Congress this week, shorn of a proposal for stricter SNAP work requirements. Enactment won't end debate over the status-quo legislation. "It can't come soon enough and when it comes, it will not be enough," said president Roger Johnson of the National Farmers Union.