House GOP bill would lock the poor out of food stamps if they don’t work

Many food stamp recipients could be locked out of the program for up to three years if they fail to work or enroll in job training, under a bill proposed by House Republicans seeking to overhaul the government benefit.

The provision, one of several contained in the controversial House farm bill that lawmakers unveiled Thursday, would ratchet up the pressure on low-income Americans to find jobs. Work requirements and lockouts are becoming a popular tool among Republican lawmakers and state officials as they seek to move more people off of public assistance and into the labor force.

“Benefits are critically important and serve a vital role in the safety net aimed at catching people if they should fall into poverty,” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway co-wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in USA Today. “But equally important is a focus on helping these same people climb back out of poverty.”

The food stamp reforms are the latest step in the GOP’s efforts to add or increase work requirements in various government benefit programs. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday directing federal agencies to promote employment for those on public assistance.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began allowing states to mandate that certain Medicaid enrollees must work for the first time in the program’s history, while the Department of Housing and Urban Development is looking into the issue for those in subsidized housing. The Department of Agriculture also wants to strengthen the work requirements in the food stamp program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

The House farm…

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