The agricultural department is trying to do what Congress would not during the budget battle — expand work requirements for the nation’s SNAP, or food stamp, recipients.
Three-quarters of a million people could lose their food benefits later this year under the newly proposed rules. The president and Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue say the goal is to encourage able-bodied adults to go to work and get off government aid.
Democrats on the House Agricultural Committee say people will go hungry if the rule goes into effect.
Connecticut Democratic Congresswoman Jahana Hayes said she used to be a SNAP beneficiary. She said it wasn’t long ago that she relied on them to make ends meet.
“I worked two jobs, was grossly underemployed and was a full-time college student.”
But Hayes says more than 750,000 Americans could soon lose these benefits.
The Trump administration has proposed new rules this year that would expand work requirements for SNAP recipients.
“This is a simple-minded approach to a complicated problem,” said Congressman Jim McGovern (D – Massachusetts).
McGovern says the administration should be helping Americans by investing in work training or transportation.
“Not cutting off their benefit because they find themselves in a difficult circumstance.”
The newly proposed rules say that if you are between the ages of 18 and 59 and are able to work at least 20 hours a week, you must do so in order to qualify for the SNAP benefits.
“Nobody is denigrating these folks. Nobody is suggesting their path forward is easy,” said Congressman Dusty Johnson (R – South Dakota).
Johnson says the goal is to get people out of the welfare system altogether.
“I think we are denying them the opportunity to improve their lives if we don’t work with them so that they can build a better future.”
The new rules are set to go into effect on October 1.