Heritage Action Supports Rep. Garret Graves’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017

This week, Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2996). This legislation would help reduce poverty and government dependency, increase self-sufficiency, and restore families by strengthening the effective and popular work requirements for all “able-bodied adults without dependents” (ABAWDs) who receive food stamps from SNAP.  

In 1996, President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which became popularly known as “welfare reform,” into law. The legislation transformed the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) into Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a program intended to provide temporary financial assistance to low-income families while encouraging work and self-sufficiency.

Most significantly, the 1996 welfare reform included mandatory federal work requirements, stipulating that welfare recipients must be engaged in work or some type of work activity in order to receive TANF benefits. These reforms were popular and successful as welfare caseloads dropped “by over 50 percent, employment of the least-skilled single mothers surged, and the poverty rates of black children and single-parent families dropped rapidly to historic lows.”

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 builds on the success of the 1996 welfare reform by applying similar principles involving work requirements to SNAP – a welfare program that has grown out-of-control in recent years, both in cost and in the number of recipients. From 2000 to 2015, food stamp recipients increased by more than 28 million and cost the government $83.1 billion in FY 2014 alone.

According to Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow in Domestic Policy Studies in the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity at the Heritage Foundation, and Rachel Sheffield’s paper Setting Priorities for Welfare Reform:

“The food stamp program is the second largest means-tested welfare program. In 2014, government spent $83.1 billion on the program. In recent years, the most rapidly growing group of food stamp recipients has been able-bodied adults without dependents. ABAWDs are adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who are not disabled and who have no children to support. In 2014, nearly five million ABAWDs received food stamps each month; few are employed.”

Congress must consider common-sense reform to SNAP in order to rein in its unsustainable growth. Requiring able-bodied adults without dependents to work as a condition for food stamp benefits is a sensible, effective policy that should receive broad bipartisan support. An overwhelming 90 percent of Americans agree that able-bodied adults receiving means-tested welfare assistance should be required to work or prepare for work. This reform was included in both President Trump’s FY 2018 budget request as well as the House GOP’s FY 2017 budget, and it has been implemented in Maine, Kansas, and Alabama with great success.

Rector and Sheffield continue:

“ABAWDs who receive food stamps should be required to work, prepare for work, or look for work in exchange for receiving benefits. In FY 2014, Maine implemented a work requirement for ABAWDs. After the implementation of the work requirement, Maine’s ABAWD caseload dropped substantially, by 80 percent within just a few months. If a federal work requirement for ABAWDs were enacted and achieved the same level of success as was achieved in Maine, the reform could save taxpayers up to $9.7 billion annually.”

If passed and signed into law, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 would encourage millions of Americans to get back to work, help end the cycle of poverty for millions dependent on government assistance, and save taxpayers billions of dollars over the next decade.       

***Heritage Action supports the legislation, encourages Representatives and Senators to support it, and reserves the right to key vote in the future.***


Please Share Your Thoughts

5 thoughts on “Heritage Action Supports Rep. Garret Graves’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017

  1. I am very much in favor of those able to work doing just that. I am 73 yrs old and would like to work my self.I
    I am having a lot of trouble just surviving with the cost of food and medical insurance

  2. Supportive of this concept, but would urge restraints and limiting food purchases with SNAP dollars to foods that are high in nutritive value; no “empty calorie” foods, such as sodas, candy, cookies, chips, sugar coated cereals, high fat meats, frozen meals, etc. WIC program limits to foods that promote healthy eating. SNAP has NO such limits, and so many recipients spend their SNAP dollars on foods that can result in obesity, dental caries, hypertension, etc.

  3. Nice start. We must also find a way to restrict female baby mill recipients as well. The more we give the more they babies they product.

  4. While requiring people to “work” is great conceptually, how does one put that into practice? Do we set up a government entity to create “make work” activities or do that have to go get a job on their own? Wouldn’t it be a better to get the government out of the feeding business and help faith based organizations do what they do best – meet the needs of those in need?

  5. People who have their own money to buy unlimited data/text/talk phone plans; gas for an SUV or 4 WD truck; cable TV with hundreds of channels and high speed internet; beer/wine/liquor; and cigarettes or e-cigarettes don’t need Section 8/rental vouchers or Nutrition Assistance/SNAP/Food Stamps. They should first spend their own money for their own housing and food instead of going broke buying luxuries then asking for handouts when they are hungry and/or can’t pay the rent. Safety net yes, freeloaders paradise no.

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