Johnson, Lee, Adams introduce competing SNAP bills
|Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., on Tuesday introduced the America Works Act, a bill to impose stiffer work requirements for able-bodied Americans receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.Johnson introduced his bill a few days after Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Alma Adams, D-N.C., reintroduced the Improving Access to Nutrition Act of 2021, which seeks to lift the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) three-month time limit requirement on SNAP benefits for adults aged 18-49 who are deemed “able-bodied” and have no dependent children.”Work is the best pathway out of poverty,” said Johnson. “Work requirements have proven to be effective, and people who can work should work. With more than 11 million open jobs, there are plenty of opportunities for SNAP recipients to escape poverty and build a better life.”Johnson said the America Works Act of 2023:▪ “Emphasizes and amends work requirements for Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) requiring childless adults, unless exempted, to work or participate in work-related training or education, for at least 20 hours per week in order to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. This bill maintains current law which states that ABAWDs are subject to a three-month limit of SNAP benefits unless they work 80 hours per month.|
▪ “Raises the age limits of an ABAWD from 18 to 49 to 18 to 65, consistent with the age individuals become eligible for Medicare. Employment projections from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics show that individuals over age 55 are projected to assume over 25% of the workforce in 2022.
▪ “Eliminates states’ ability to carry over exemption waivers from year to year, reducing instances of stockpiling and hampering abuses of the law. States are currently allowed robust flexibility in managing their SNAP population, with 12% of state caseloads eligible for exemptions from the work requirements. Johnson’s bill maintains that flexibility, but doesn’t allow states to carry over exemptions year after year.”
In a news release, Johnson listed 14 original co-sponsors. They did not include House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa. (see link).
|“People who report an insufficient amount of work hours are generally prohibited from receiving more than three months of SNAP benefits over a 36-month period in an effort to minimize unemployment. Research finds that relinquishing access to SNAP benefits only forces people into hunger, not job security,” Lee said.”Our world and our workforce have been permanently changed by the pandemic. SNAP must adapt to the new normal continue to support American families,” said Adams. “Due to an arbitrary rule, up to 6 million Americans are in danger of losing their benefits and going hungry when pandemic assistance expires. Passing the Improving Access to Nutrition Act will ensure that we keep families healthy and fed, so they can pursue a career, continuing education, job training, and more.”|
|Ellen Vollinger, SNAP director at the Food Research & Action Center, told The Hagstrom Report the anti-hunger group opposes the Johnson bill and supports the Lee-Adams bill.The Johnson bill contains “ill-conceived recycled proposals that have been rejected, including in the 2018 farm bill,” Vollinger said.In a blog post, she added, “SNAP time limits are completely misplaced in terms of a sensible and effective jobs policy for the nation. SNAP participation is not a cause but a symptom of a labor market that lacks enough jobs with full-time hours and wages to provide sufficient family-sustaining incomes.”|
|Lisa Davis, senior vice president of Share Our Strength and its No Kid Hungry campaign, said in a news release, “This bill is punitive and counterintuitive, and we strongly oppose it. SNAP is one of our nation’s most effective nutrition programs. We should be seeking ways to strengthen and improve the program, not restrict access to it.”As proposed, the bill fails to account for the myriad factors that drive economic mobility – income and wages, education, and workforce development, among others. While a good job is the best path out of poverty, there is little reason to believe this bill will increase employment or help anyone achieve self-sufficiency. Instead, it will only serve to take food away from vulnerable Americans. We urge Congress to fight for a farm bill that protects and strengthens SNAP, rather than restricting access for those who need its benefits.”|
–The Hagstrom Report