Westerman Sends Letter Supporting Perdue’s Proposed SNAP Rule

March 10, 2019
Press Release

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) joined U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) and 63 other members of Congress in sending a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, supporting the proposed rule to enforce work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

“At a time when our nation is seeing historic economic growth, including generationally-low unemployment rates, this proposed rule will allow our country to continue to thrive by restoring integrity to SNAP and by moving the American people toward complete self-sufficiency, thereby saving American taxpayers billions of dollars…

“As you may know, SNAP was originally intended to give hard-working Americans a second chance should they encounter a difficult stretch in life – it was never intended to become one’s livelihood, or their so-called ‘way of life.’ In spite of this, since our last welfare reform legislation in 1996, the program has repeatedly shifted from these first intentions, and has continually been weakened by increased administrative flexibility…

"The USDA’s proposed rule would help to fix this significant problem by implementing several common-sense reforms to the current requirement waiver laws. These include raising the necessary unemployment threshold for local area work requirement waivers to seven percent unemployment, ending the states’ ability to gerrymander waiver districts by only granting partial state waivers for areas that are ‘economically tied,’ ending the states’ ability to accumulate and carryover work requirement exemptions for more than one year, and increasing SNAP administrative efficiency by setting clearer standards for allowable waivers.”

Read the full letter here.

 

Background:

When the stricter work requirements were removed from the 2018 Farm Bill, Perdue announced a proposed rule to tighten SNAP’s work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) between the ages of 18 and 49.

Under the current requirements, ABAWDs must work or participate in a training program at least 20 hours a week to receive benefits for more than three months over a 36-month period. However, states may request waivers for areas without sufficient jobs for the time requirement. As a result of these state waivers, nearly three-fourths of those on food stamp rolls in 2016 were not working.

With a strong economy coming out of 2018 and a strong outlook for 2019, areas with an unemployment rate of just 5 percent could be eligible for a waiver on the work requirement. Thirty-six states currently waive the work requirements for some or all of the ABAWD population.

“These waivers weaken states’ ability to move the ABAWD population to long-term sufficiency because they do not require ABAWDs to engage in work and work training,” Perdue said in December.

The proposed rule is intended to move ABAWDs towards self-sufficiency through work and restore the original intent of SNAP, to assist and support families in difficult times. SNAP was never meant to be a way of life.