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Agriculture Dept. trying to expand SNAP benefit work requirements

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — The Agriculture 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.

The President and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the goal is to encourage able-bodied adults to go to work and get off government aid.

Connecticut Democratic Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says it wasn’t long ago that she relied on food stamps to make ends meet.

Hayes says: 

“I was a SNAP beneficiary. I worked two jobs, was grossly underemployed and was a fulltime college student.”

But Hayes says over 750,000 Americans could lose their food benefits later this year under the new proposed rules by the Trump Administration.

The new 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 SNAP benefits.

South Dakota Republican Congressman Dusty 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.”

But Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern believes the change would be unfair, saying cutting off SNAP benefits won’t make it easier for someone to get a job.

“I don’t know how cutting off someone’s SNAP benefits is going to make it easier for them to get a job, where there is no transportation, or someone again who has an undiagnosed mental illness. How that is going to help them get into the workforce? This is a simple-minded approach to a complicated problem. There are a whole bunch of things we should be doing, not cutting off their benefit because they find themselves in a difficult circumstance.” 

Hayes added that she believes the changes would be punishing people for being poor or in foster care and that job training and education would be more helpful. “By ripping away a lifeline of an already vulnerable population, this administration is making yet another unconscionable attack on young people and poor people.”