House Agriculture Committee Advances Farm Bill with Food Stamp Work Requirement

By Melanie Arter | April 19, 2018 | 12:12pm EDT
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) (Screenshot)

( – The House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday approved on a party-line vote a five-year farm bill that includes a work requirement for able-bodied adults without children who are on food stamps.

Democrats on the committee voted against the bill because of the changes it makes to the food stamp program. The bill would spend nearly $87 billion a year with food stamps accounting for three-fourths of the outlays.

A House vote is expected on the bill “as early in May as we can get,” Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told the “Hugh Hewitt Show” on Thursday that the GOP believes having a work requirement will help transition people from welfare to work.

Ryan said “80 percent of the farm bill is food stamps.”

“And right now, you have a system in America where people who are able-bodied who are not working, who are not looking for work, who aren’t in school, who should be, you know, working are, have been on food stamps for a long, long time,” he said.

“What we believe will help get people from welfare to work is to have a work requirement. So yesterday, the Agriculture Committee pushed through their committee a bill that says if you’re a work-capable adult, you don’t have little kids, you’re able-bodied, you’ve got to work at least 20 hours a week if you’re going to get these benefits and/or go to school, and you’re guaranteed to get some job training programs,” he said.

“So it invests the savings you get from a work requirement into making sure you can give people that transition training they need, to get the skills they need, to get the careers they want,” Ryan added.

The speaker said this is a time of “faster economic growth, higher wages, more jobs, more opportunities” and there are 6.6 million job openings in the U.S. right now. There are approximately 10 million people who are able-bodied and capable of working who aren’t.

“So we want to get them into careers, and that, along with career and technical education reform so that people can get skills they need and want to get careers that are out there, that is the final big installment of Our Better Way agenda, in addition to the things you just mentioned,” Ryan added.

The GOP released details on its Better Way Agenda in 2016, which consists of “six big ideas.” Those are: ‘An equal shot at the American dream, protect our way of life, end the bailouts, president or king?, starting over with Obamacare (a.k.a. getting rid of it), and file your taxes on a postcard.”

The GOP’s Better Way agenda includes five ideas on how to combat poverty. The first calls for rewarding work. “If you are capable, we will expect you to work or prepare for work.” Secondly, it calls for tailoring benefits to people’s needs. “We will match poverty-fighting programs with your needs so that it’s easier for you to get back on your feet.” The third idea calls for improving skills and schools. “We will make sure that poor kids have more opportunities to succeed at every stage, from childhood through college.”

Fourth, it calls for planning and saving for the future. To this end, “We will make it easier for you and your family to plan for the future and be retirement-ready,” the agenda stated. And fifth, “demand results,” which calls for opening up the system to accountability and collaboration, backing ideas that work on the front lines.”

AS previously reported, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on April 10 aimed at welfare reform, titled the “Executive Order Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility,” which called for strengthening work requirements among other things.

It specifically called for addressing the challenges of people who may find it hard to find and keep jobs, including single parents, ex-convicts, the homeless, substance abusers, the disabled, and “disconnected youth.”


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