The Trump administration is thinking about adopting a plan which would permit the individual states to demand drug testing for food stamp recipients, according to the Associated Press.
The proposal is just one more step in the White House’s potential to allow states more flexibility in executing federal programs for the poor. Additionally, it needs to enable work demands for recipients.
Federal law bans states from imposing their own constraints on the food stamps eligibility. At least 20 states have introduced laws to display safety program participants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In April of 2018, Trump signed an executive order calling for agencies to establish or strengthen present work requirements for specific people who benefit from federal welfare programs.
The White House issued a memo which stated that people could have an easier time achieving economic mobility through work requirements where they already exist as well as the creation of new ones where applicable.
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A government official told the AP the drug program would apply to individuals that are normal, not dependent and in search of some particular jobs. The official estimated that approximately five percent of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) could be impacted.
The AP received internal emails that say Agriculture Department officials in February awaited word from the White House concerning a possible announcement’s timing.
Associate Administrator of SNAP, Jessica Shahin, wrote: “I think we just have to be ready because my guess is we may get an hour’s notice instead of a day’s notice.”
Policymakers have pushed from many years to tie food assistance programs.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker accused the USDA in 2015 for blocking the nation from drug testing adults applying for food stamps.
In 2016, one judge tossed the suit, but Walker renewed his request for permission the same year later after the Donald Trump became the President but before he took office.
Kevin Concannon, the Former USDA Food and Nutrition Service Undersecretary, said “We turned down,” who worked at the position under the Obama presidency from 2009 until January of this past year. “It is costly and awkward.”
Yet, some states have attempted to implement some kind of drug testing so far with little success.
Similar attempts have been blocked by judges in several states. A federal appeals court supported a lower court’s decision that drug testing SNAP receivers are illegal.
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In December, Walker started moving with a workaround, drug testing participants at the Employment and Training Program of the state who received food stamps.
Under Trump administration, USDA hasn’t taken a public position on drug testing. However, Secretary Sonny Perdue has assured to provide states with “better command over SNAP.”
“As a former governor, I know first-hand how important it is for states to be given the flexibility to achieve the desired goal of self-sufficiency for people,” he said. “We want to provide the nutrition people need, but we also want to help them transition from government programs, back to work, and into lives of independence.”
In February 15 email to USDA officials, Maggie Lyons, chief of staff to an acting official in the Food and Nutrition Service, stated, “We need to have a conversation about timing given budget and when the (White House) wants us to release drug testing.”
If the legislation moves forward, it wouldn’t be the first time drug testing used in a safety net program.
Minimum 15 states have passed legislation allowing them to drug-test recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, also known as welfare.
The discussion of changes to the program and the future of SNAP are set against the backdrop 2018 farm bill, slated for launch. The majority of the bill’s spending goes toward financing SNAP, which usually proves the most controversial part of discussions; late previous month, House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., circulated a report on behalf of Democrats criticizing “extreme, partisan strategies being supported by the majority.”
A senior policy examiner at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Ed Bolen believe tank, said requiring drug testing will have implications for already vulnerable populations. What is more, he said, for SNAP recipients implementing drug testing is murky.
“Are people losing their food assistance if they don’t take the test, and in that case, is that a condition of eligibility, which the states aren’t allowed to impose?” he said. “And does drug testing fall into what’s allowable under a state training and employment program, which typically lists things like job search or education or on-the-job experience? This is kind of a different bucket.”
The emails demonstrate that USDA is currently weighing the possibility of scaling back a policy set in 42 states that automatically allows food stamp eligibility to families that qualify for non-cash guidance, like childcare and job training. The projected change, which would impose income limitations, could affect millions.
When the 2014 farm bill was passed by Congress, Republicans attempted to make changes; however, Democrats rejected the cuts and didn’t wind up in the final bill.
The former USDA undersecretary, Concannon told the Trump government “is keen on weakening the applications developed to strengthen the health or equity or access to applications and imposing populist requirements that are not evidence-based, but often stigmatize people.”
The USDA lately has been under fire for its controversial plan to replace some of countless food stamp recipients’ benefits with a pre-assembled bundle of shelf-stable goods dubbed “America’s Harvest Box.” The food box program was tucked in the Trump administration’s projected 2019 budget, which included cutting on the SNAP program by $213 billion over the next few years.
SNAP provides about 42 million Americans with food assistance. The USDA lately has been under fire for its controversial plan to replace some of countless food stamp recipients’ benefits with a pre-assembled bundle of shelf-stable goods dubbed “America’s Harvest Box.”
The food box program was tucked in the Trump administration’s projected 2019 budget, which included cutting on the SNAP program by $213 billion over the next few years. And remember that SNAP provides about 42 million Americans with food assistance.