Trump Signs $867B Bipartisan Farm Bill with Welfare Reform Work Requirements

By Melanie Arter | December 21, 2018 | 10:44 AM EST

U.S. President Donald Trump is joined on stage by members of Congress, farming and livestock representatives and others during the signing ceremony for the Agriculture Improvement Act in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on December 20, 2018. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – President Donald Trump signed into law the $867 billion farm bill Thursday, which includes welfare reform requiring able-bodied adults without children to work or look for work.

“In addition to signing this critical legislation, today I am directing my administration to take immediate action on welfare reform. Thanks to our thriving economy, we have already lifted more than 4.6 million Americans off the food stamp roll since the election, and more work remains to be done,” Trump said.

Trump called the bill “a bipartisan success.” It doubles the number of farmers who can borrow to expand and improve their farms. It also expands rural broadband, provides more resources to fight the opioid crisis, and opens new markets for U.S. agriculture overseas.

“Millions of able-bodied, working-age adults continue to collect food stamps without working or even looking for work. Our goal is to move these Americans from dependence to independence, and into a good-paying job and rewarding career. Therefore, I have directed Secretary Perdue to use his authority under the law to close work requirement loopholes in the food stamp program,” the president said.

“Under this new rule, able-bodied adults without dependents will have to work, or look for work, in order to receive their food stamps. Today’s action will help Americans transition from welfare to gainful employment, strengthening families and uplifting communities, and that was a difficult thing to get done, but the farmers wanted it done,” Trump said.

“We all wanted it done, and I think, in the end, it's going to make a lot of people very happy. It's called ‘work rules,’ and Sonny is able, under this bill, to implement them through regulation,” he added.

A black conservative group, Project 21, applauded the welfare reform regulation, saying it is consistent with a recommendation found in their "Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America."

"People should not be able to become professional entitlement beneficiaries – especially during times of low unemployment. President Trump and the U.S. Department of Agriculture should be commended for wanting to make sure our tax dollars are spent wisely," said Project 21 member Emery McClendon.

"Our government has programs in place to help citizens who fall on hard times. Programs such as SNAP are intended to be temporary. It would greatly enhance those who are enrolled in these programs as well as the communities in which they live if there were work or training requirements linked to continued assistance," McClendon added.

“To ‘reinforce the… intent’ of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 and meet the goals of President Donald Trump's April 2018 executive order on welfare reform, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a proposed rule today to limit state waivers on SNAP eligibility,” the group said.

“While SNAP requires able-bodied individuals to work 80 hours a month or participate in a job training program to maintain eligibility for benefits, states have been allowed to obtain waivers for extended periods based on local unemployment rates. The proposed rule seeks to curtail ‘widespread use’ of waivers that the Trump Administration believes were meant for "temporary relief… in an economic downturn."

The proposed regulation applies to adults 18-48, who don’t have dependents, and are able-bodied. Pregnant women and disabled persons are exempt from work requirements.

"If you are able-bodied, government assistance should be a safety net and not a hammock. As someone who was once on food stamps, I know it is necessary. And the exact order addresses the able-bodied without dependents. There is no excuse for those on welfare not trying to help their community or help themselves," said Project 21 member Marie Fischer-Wyrick.

"When I lost a job after 20 years in the workforce, I was on assistance with two dependents. I not only looked for work while on assistance, but I took certification courses to find a better position. I only needed assistance for short time because I knew it was not a way of life for myself or my children," she added.

 

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