New work requirements for some SNAP recipients included in debt limit deal • Georgia Recorder

WASHINGTON (AP) — The holiday weekend debt ceiling deal reached by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy partially maintains new work requirements for some food stamp recipients, but now with exceptions for certain populations, including veterans.

The agreement released late Saturday night showed concessions from both sides – from GOP members who wanted to tighten eligibility not only for food stamps but also health care for low-income earners, and from Democrats who called such restrictions nonsense.

The Biden administration and the Republican majority in the House of Representatives reached a compromise called the Fiscal Responsibility Act, a day after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that the U.S. would default if a deal was not reached by June 5.

Work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other government benefits have been a sticking point during the months-long standoff that left the Treasury Department depleting all reserves to pay the country's bills.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the deal late Wednesday evening. The bill will then be sent to the Democratic-led Senate.

New work rules

The Fiscal Responsibility Act proposes additional work requirements with an expiration date of 2030 for adults without dependents ages 18 to 55, unless the recipient has veteran status, is homeless, or is under age 24 and is exiting the foster care system.

The House Republican majority claims the new rules will “lift Americans out of poverty” and that the “consistent reforms” will “save taxpayer dollars, put Americans back to work and grow the economy,” according to a statement from the office on Saturday released document by GOP Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota.

The move departs from McCarthy's original proposal, which increased work requirements for food assistance recipients without dependents until age 55, with no exceptions for veterans, homeless people or young adults leaving care.

Current law requires all Federal Food Assistance recipients ages 16 to 59 to either be looking for work, participating in a SNAP job training program, or earning a wage equal to the federal minimum wage for 30 hours per week.

Some exceptions exist, for example, for people who are already employed, are physically or mentally unable, or are caring for a child under 6 years of age.

People ages 18 to 49 who are considered able-bodied adults are subject to additional rules and must work 80 hours a month for pay, attend a training program or volunteer – although some states may waive these requirements depending on unemployment levels and other factors can do without.

Beneficiaries in this age group who cannot meet current additional work requirements and are unable to obtain a waiver will only be able to receive SNAP benefits, formerly called food stamps, for three months over a three-year period.

The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that raising the age to 55 would have jeopardized food assistance for about a million adults without dependents.

In a statement Sunday, the center's president, Sharon Parrott, called the new proposal a “significant improvement over the House's radical bill.”

But she continued: “It's not the deal the country deserves.” There are a number of worrying elements, including the provision that jeopardizes food assistance for very low-income older adults. This policy will increase hunger and poverty among this group, is contrary to our nation's values, and should be rejected. The nation needs to pay its bills – but that shouldn’t mean passing laws that worsen off people who already struggle to afford basic necessities.”

The most conservative wing of Republicans demanded that McCarthy tie spending cuts to a debt ceiling increase in exchange for securing McCarthy the speaker's gavel.

The original debt ceiling proposal — the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which narrowly passed the Republican majority in the House of Representatives — included expanded SNAP work rules as well as new work requirements for Medicaid recipients and for the poorest Americans relying on temporary assistance those in need rely on families or TANF.

Taken together, these expanded welfare requirements would have reduced federal spending by $100 billion to $120 billion over the next decade, according to respective analyzes by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Moody's Analytics. However, both analyzes concluded that clawing back new IRS funds through the Limit, Save, Grow Act, passed in 2022 to modernize tax collection, would have offset those savings by costing the government about $100 billion over the next decade. would have cost dollars.

“Oh, the Republicans want to reduce the deficit? I have a simple idea – tax the rich,” tweeted Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington congresswoman and chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who has criticized the White House for agreeing to any new SNAP work requirements.

Some restrictions on TANF were included in Saturday's agreement, but work requirements for Medicaid were eliminated.

The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan body that calculates the costs and savings of legislation, has not yet released its assessment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

Shalanda Young, director of the U.S. Office Management and Budget, said at Tuesday's White House press briefing that the administration does not yet have an estimate of how many SNAP recipients will be subject to the new work requirements.

“Some people who have these requirements now will no longer do so, if they are homeless, if they are veterans, if they are foster youth up to 24 years old outside of the system. So the analysis is being completed, but we believe those who do. “The number of those who are exempt from these requirements because of these exceptions will be about the same as the number of those whose age groups are phased in,” Young said, who was one of the negotiators for the new deal.

“And you have to remember: This entire SNAP change will go down in 2030 to give Congress a chance to see how the new exemptions work and how the new eras work,” she continued. “And (Congress) may comment on a future farm bill if these changes have made a difference in the SNAP program.”

Agricultural bill

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers SNAP, analyzes the number of beneficiaries and any changes to the program. Nutrition programs make up the bulk of the multi-year omnibus legislation known as the farm bill.

Congress is currently negotiating a new farm bill that would reauthorize spending on food and agriculture programs.

The idea of ​​expanding SNAP work requirements gained traction in March when Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, introduced the America Works Act, which proposed adjusting work rules for recipients up to age 65.

Johnson's office did not respond to a query about whether the congressman would push for the tougher rules under the farm bill.

A congressman on the Republican-led House Agriculture Committee said the effort was unlikely. Attempts to relitigate SNAP work requirements during the farm bill process would create an unnecessary hurdle in drafting and passing a timely, bipartisan farm bill, the aide said.