Poliquin pushes tough new rules for food stamps
Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin has proposed new restrictions on receiving nutritional aid commonly known as food stamps. Congressional leaders are expected to include Poliquin’s proposals in a massive farm bill being released Thursday.
The farm bill, which is due for reauthorization in 2019, covers five years of funding and policy changes in matters involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has overseen the food stamps program since its inception. The proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — which with related federal nutrition programs is worth about $70 billionannually — have already been identified by some as the flashpoint in the overall debate.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Florida, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, recently told Agriculture.com that “the federal government cannot do this without screwing it up. It’s a waste of money.”
Poliquin’s proposals include two major changes to SNAP, the formal name for the food stamps program, through what is referred to as the Food Stamp Integrity Act, which is modeled after changes to the program that have been enacted in Maine. The changes impose a ban on SNAP for anyone who is delinquent in paying child support — unless they have an approved payment plan — and add new work requirements.
The proposed work requirements mandate that “able-bodied adults with no dependents” work, volunteer or train for work for at least 20 hours a week to receive SNAP benefits. Failure to do so for three months in a 48-month period would result in ineligibility for the remainder of the four years, or until the recipient complies. The limit under current law is three months in a 36-month period, according to Poliquin. The proposal would also limit states’ authority to waive work requirements for recipients.
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