Republican leaders discuss work requirement for SNAP benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – House Republicans are introducing new work and job training requirements for adults who receive food assistance through the “SNAP” program.

Those requirements will be included in the massive new farm bill, which is scheduled for a vote in the house on Friday.

It would require able-bodied adults between ages 18 and 59 who don’t have children ages 6 or under to work a minimum of 20 hours a week or be in job training. And that would grow to 25 hours per week in 2026.

Republicans argue food stamp enrollment continues to hover above 40 million recipients, despite an economy with an official unemployment rate of below 4 percent. And the bill mandates stricter eligibility requirements before receiving SNAP benefits in the first place.

Republicans argue it’s about moving recipients into the workforce. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) Said, “In addition to helping our farmers, this bill includes important workforce development reforms attaching work requirements help get people out of poverty and onto the ladder of opportunity.

“It sets up a system where SNAP recipients who are able to go to work can work.  And if they can’t they will be guaranteed training that they need.”

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said, “Something else that this bill does that’s critically important is it restores real work requirements to welfare programs that have not really served people that are on them right now.

“We now see companies looking to hire workers and that’s a great thing. But at the same time, we also see a record number of people, a ballooning number of people, on SNAP.  Back in 2000 when we had those lower levels of unemployment we had 17 million people on the SNAP program.  Today it’s over 41 million people on that same program.  And so what we want to do is restore that value of the dignity of hard work.”

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi last month denounced the GOP drafted bill as “radical” and “harmful” and destined to increase hunger.

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