ACTIVISM TOOLKIT: SNAP (Foodstamps)

Last month, Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2996). This legislation builds on the success of President Clinton’s 1996 welfare reform that requires able bodied adults to be engaged in some sort of work or work activity in order to receive welfare benefits.

Conservatives should work to get their representatives to be co-sponsors of the SNAP act. The goal is to get as many Republican members on the bill to gain momentum to have a full floor vote on the bill.

Key Talking Points: 

  • The SNAP Reform Act would 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” or ABAWDs. These include adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who are not disabled and who have no children to support. 
  • 90% of Americans believe that able-bodied adults receiving means-tested welfare assistance should be required to work or prepare for work.
  • From 2000 to 2015, food stamp recipients increased by more than 28 million and cost the government $83.1 billion in FY 2014 alone.
  • In FY 2014, Maine implemented a work requirement for ABAWDs. After the implementation of the work requirement, Maine’s ABAWD caseload dropped 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.

(Make sure to insert the twitter handle of your Representative)

  • @MEMBER co-sponsor #SNAPreform Act of 2017. 90% of Americans support work requirements
  • @MEMBER #SNAPreform would help end government dependence and save taxpayers billions of dollars
  • @MEMBER work requirements for able-bodied adults to receive food stamps is sensible, effective policy #SNAPreform
  • Welfare programs should have the goal of getting people back to work. @MEMBER Americans want #SNAPreform

General Tweets:

  • #SNAPreform would help reduce poverty & government dependency, increase self-sufficiency, and restore families
  • #FoodStamps have grown out-of-control in recent years, both in cost and in the number of recipients. It’s time for #SNAPreform
  • Work requirements have been implemented in Maine, Kansas & Alabama with great success. It’s time for all of America to have #SNAPreform
  • Welfare programs, including food stamps, should be temporary, limited in size and scope, and assist those truly in need. #SNAPreform

These are notes to use when calling your member of Congress. You can find their phone number on the Heritage Action Dashboard.

Hi, I’m [NAME] from [STATE].

The goal of welfare programs should be to increase self-sufficiency and decrease government dependency. However food stamp recipients have increased at an alarming rate, and so has spending for the program. It doubled under Bush and doubled again under Obama. It’s time for reform.

Rep. Garret Graves introduced Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2996) and I noticed the Congressman is not a co-sponsor. This bill would encourage millions of Americans to get back to work, help end the cycle of poverty for those dependent on government assistance, and save taxpayers billions of dollars. 

Able-bodied adults without dependents should be required to work or prepare for work in exchange for government assistance — and 90% of Americans agree.

Please tell the Congressman to co-sponsor the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017. It’s time to reform the food stamp program to ensure it serves those truly in need.

The goal is to get all Republican members on the co-sponsor list, however we are starting with asking Conservative members to add their names.

COMING SOON

Will be all Republican members minus the co-sponsors

Below is a sample letter to the editor. We encourage you to adapt and personalize the letter below. Heritage Action Regional Coordinators are always here to help edit your letter and get it published.

Congressman X, Support Work for Welfare

Over the past two decades Congress has let the Food Stamp Program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, grow out-of-control.

From 2000 to 2015, the number of food stamp recipients increased from around 17 million to more than 45 million while government spending on the program rose from just over $20 billion to $83 billion! Alarmingly, the most rapidly growing group of Americans receiving food stamps is able-bodied adults without kids.

President Ronald Reagan once said: “We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.” Millions of our fellow adult citizens without children are living off taxpayer dollars without working. It’s time for the party of Reagan to step up and help solve the problem.

Inspired by the success of the 1996 work for welfare reforms, Representative Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2996). This bill enacts work requirements on able-bodied adults without dependents as a condition to receive food stamp benefits. 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.

If passed and signed into law, this legislation would encourage millions of Americans to get back to work, help end the cycle of poverty for those dependent on government assistance, and save taxpayers billions of dollars.

Congressman [X] should support work for welfare reform by cosponsoring the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017.

  

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Heritage Action Supports Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Mike Lee’s Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act (H.R. 2832/S. 1290)

Earlier this month, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act (H.R. 2832 & S. 1290). This legislation would help reduce poverty and government dependency, increase self-sufficiency, restore families, and strengthen the effective and popular work requirements on means-tested welfare programs that have been gutted by the Obama administration.

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.

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:

“Mandatory federal work requirements for recipients were at the heart of the change, which led to significant decreases in the program’s rolls, increased work among former recipients, and historic reductions in child poverty.”

Despite the success of the 1996 welfare reform, 20 years later there’s still much to be done to ensure that the welfare system moves people toward work and self-sufficiency rather than toward government dependency. Rector and Sheffield continue:

“The United States’ means-tested welfare system [still] consists of over 80 programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and lower-income Americans. Total annual spending on these programs reached $1 trillion in 2015. More than 75 percent of this funding comes from the federal government….

“Although the welfare reform of the 1990s was popular and initially successful, it was actually quite limited. Of 80 welfare programs, only TANF was reformed, and even in TANF, the vigor of reform has nearly disappeared.”

Rep. Jordan and Sen. Lee have restarted the conversation, advocating for conservative reforms that will help reduce poverty and government dependency, increase self-sufficiency, restore families, and strengthen the effective and popular work requirements that have been gutted by the Obama administration. These ideas, and more, are found in the most comprehensive and serious welfare reform legislation introduced since Republicans regained control of Congress in 2010: The newly reintroduced Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act (H.R. 2832/S. 1290).

The bill contains five major policy reforms:

  1. Improves accounting of government welfare spending by requiring the federal government to report all means-tested welfare spending–including state and local––as well as to report estimated spending levels over the next decade.
  2. Strengthens work requirements for all able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDS) who receive food stamps (SNAP). Similar reforms have been implemented in Maine, Kansas, and Alabama with great success. It also creates a new work requirement for parents in SNAP, modeled after the 1996 TANF law.
  3. Strengthens TANF work requirements by implementing a new “work preparation requirement” for the 50% of the TANF caseload that is currently completely idle.
  4. Phases down the federal involvement in subsidized housing programs by decreasing the federal share of funding by 50% over ten years and transferring fiscal responsibility for these programs to the states.
  5. Prohibits any funding for abortion.

While there is more to be done to achieve comprehensive welfare reform, such as rooting out fraud in the Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit and eliminating marriage penalties, Senator Lee and Congressman Jordan’s Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act is not just a white paper, but a serious and significant first step toward real welfare reform.

This bill builds on the successful 1996 law by restoring and strengthening TANF work requirements and by placing real work requirements into SNAP, the second largest means-tested welfare program in operation today. It requires accountability for welfare spending and moves toward creating true federalism in America’s welfare system. If enacted, this legislation would be the start of Welfare Reform 2.0, by compassionately encouraging work while saving the taxpayers trillions of dollars over the next twenty years.

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

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ENLIST Act (H.R. 60) Claims and Responses

In January, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) introduced a bill that would provide legal status to illegal immigrants if they join the military. The Encourage New Legalized Immigrants to Start Training (ENLIST) Act (H.R. 60) would allow “Dreamers” to receive lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in exchange for military service.

While promoted by some of its supporters as a solution to our military preparedness problem, the ENLIST Act is amnesty — little more than a backdoor promise of citizenship for those who came here illegally. The bill would further damage our broken immigration system by putting those in violation of the law ahead of those who want to come to our country legally. It is difficult to argue that such an arrangement advances U.S. national security objectives. Conservatives should oppose the ENLIST Act and fight any effort by Rep. Denham or others to attach the bill to the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) later this year.  

Below are some commonly made claims and straightforward conservative responses:

Claim: The ENLIST Act does not provide backdoor amnesty, only lawful permanent resident status.

Response: Once an illegal immigrant acquires LPR status through this bill, they are eligible to apply for citizenship on an expedited basis and become citizens within months. Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Charles Stimson explains:

“[S]ections 328 and 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allow LPRs to apply for expedited naturalization either after one year of military service or after one day of military hostilities, respectively. Thus, if the ENLIST Act were passed in its current form, illegal immigrants who signed up for military service would obtain LPR status immediately and, after one day of service during conflict, could apply for expedited citizenship. That process takes only a matter of months.”

Claim: Earning legal status by serving in the military is not amnesty.

Response: The ENLIST Act turns the notion of an all-volunteer military on its head. Wade Miller, a Marine combat veteran and South Central Regional Coordinator for Heritage Action, explains it would “undermine the important social narrative that allows our all-volunteer military to thrive, namely that service is a benefit, as opposed to a punishment.” Miller continues:  

“It is a privilege to serve in America’s all volunteer force, and that service instills some of the most valuable virtues a citizen could hope for in a Republic. Military service also builds within one the vital moral warrior ethos that every peaceful society must maintain. The United States government also spends significant amounts of money to impart enduring skills on military servicemen and women. The financial compensation for my time in the military pales in comparison to the betterment of my character that military service and combat experience gave me.

“In proposing the exchange of amnesty for military service, politicians not only create the wrong incentives for military service and potentially expose security risks, they also undermine the military’s service-oriented ethos.”

Claim: The ENLIST Act does nothing to incentivize more illegal immigrants to come to the United States.

Response: While the current version of the bill only applies to those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children prior to 2012, it suggests the Federal Government is not serious about enforcing its immigration laws and makes similar legislation in the future more likely to pass. Congress should fix our broken immigration system and enforce the law, not pass one-off legislation like the ENLIST Act that exacerbate the problems.

Claim: The ENLIST Act does not harm U.S. national security objectives.

Response: This bill does nothing to advance U.S. national security objectives. Instead, it undermines the military by unnecessarily dragging the controversial immigration debate into the military and the brave men and women who serve it. Based on the experience involving the temporary amnesty that President Obama instituted through executive fiat known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Stimson suggests vetting could also be problematic:

“This program, however, has not met its already modest requirements. Specifically, DACA recipients are supposed to pass a background check, but after just a couple of months, DHS began conducting “lean and lite” background checks, urging employees to accept all DACA recipients, explicitly waiving rules regarding proof of identity, and even stopping background checks altogether.”

Claim: The ENLIST Act helps our military preparedness.

Response: It is true that the U.S. military is experiencing a more challenging recruiting environment, but the answer is not a backdoor amnesty program that itself raises national security challenges. Increasing the pool of potential applicants to illegal immigrants is a short-sighted answer to the ongoing readiness issue the military faces. Congress should instead focus its efforts on adequately funding the military to address readiness issues.

Claim: President Trump wants Congress to pass the ENLIST Act to help improve our military readiness.

Response: Legislation is unnecessary. Section 329 (8 U.S.C. 1440) gives the president the authority to provide the same citizenship to aliens who have served in the military during “armed conflict with a hostile foreign force.” Thus, when we need people during times of war, the president can use this provision to attract non-citizens (legal and illegal) into the military.

Claim: The ENLIST Act is consistent with long standing military policy that rewards foreign nationals with citizenship if they serve in the military.    

Response: Historically, U.S. military policy has rewarded legal immigrants with citizenship for serving in the armed forces, not illegal immigrants as clearly laid out in Sections 328 and 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The U.S. has and continues to welcome foreigners throughout the world who desire to come to our shores legally; especially those who want to serve in the military. The ENLIST Act violates generous U.S. immigration laws by putting those who violated the law ahead of those who are waiting in line to come to the country legally.   

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Senate BCRA Activist Toolkit

Last month, the House passed their version of a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare called the American Health Care Act, or AHCA. That bill moved the ball forward on repealing parts of the Title I regulations of Obamacare by giving power to the states to opt-out of some of those harmful regulations.

Now the Senate has taken up their version of the bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). Conservatives like Mike Lee and Ted Cruz are fighting for more conservative reforms

The BCRA is not a repeal, but it does go beyond the status quo of Obamacare. It makes substantial changes to Medicaid, it gives state the flexibility to opt out of the harmful parts of Title I regulations and repeals nearly $1 trillion in taxes.

We all know the reality of the situation — this is NOT a full repeal of Obamacare — but it is a chance to stop the bleeding and advance substantive reforms that will position conservatives for future healthcare fights.

Here are the three things you should be asking your Senators to do:

  1. Reform Medicaid – Obamacare radically expanded Medicaid, which was already unsustainable and ineffective. The House-passed bill rolled back that expansion and included a generational reform to the way the program is financed. If the Senate maintains or improves those reforms, we can minimize waste and fraud, and not bankrupt the country.
  2. Empower States – The House-passed bill allowed states to opt out of some of the premium-increasing insurance mandates in Obamacare. Under Obamacare, the federal government basically became the nation’s default insurance commissioner.  The Senate must give states the ability to opt out of these harmful Title I regulations which are the core of Obamacare’s skyrocketing costs. Giving more control to the states to regulate health insurance markets is essential to draining the swamp in Washington.
  3. Repeal Taxes – Senators must ensure the Obamacare taxes are repealed once and for all. The House-passed bill was good on this point and the Senate must do the same. Pure and simple, this is a tax cut that will put money back in the pockets of the American people — money that was stolen by the Obama Administration.

The Senate is continuing to work on their bill this week and your voice is needed. A final version could be unveiled this month! We must take action to ensure the final version of the BCRA as conservative as possible.

Name Classification Phone Number Twitter
Cotton (R-AR) Title 1 Champion (202) 224-2353 @SenTomCotton
Cruz (R-TX) Title 1 Champion (202) 224-5922 @SenTedCruz
Johnson (R-WI) Title 1 Champion (202) 224-5323 @SenRonJohnson
Lee (R-UT) Title 1 Champion (202) 224-5444 @SenMikeLee
Paul (R-KY) Title 1 Champion (202) 224-4343 @RandPaul
Sasse (R-NE) Title 1 Champion (202) 224-4224 @SenSasse
Toomey (R-PA) Title 1 Champion (202) 224-4254 @SenToomey
Barrasso (R-WY) 2018 Re-Election (202) 224-6441 @SenJohnBarrasso
Corker (R-TN) 2018 Re-Election (202) 224-3344 @SenBobCorker
Fischer (R-NE) 2018 Re-Election (202) 224-6551 @SenatorFischer
Flake (R-AZ) 2018 Re-Election (202) 224-4521 @JeffFlake
Hatch (R-UT) 2018 Re-Election (202) 224-5251 @senorrinhatch
Wicker (R-MS) 2018 Re-Election (202) 224-6253 @SenatorWicker
Capito (R-WV) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-6472 @SenCapito
Heller (R-NV) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-6244 @SenDeanHeller
Gardner (R-CO) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-5941 @SenCoryGardner
Murkowski (R-AK) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-6665 @lisamurkowski
Portman (R-OH) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-3353 @senrobportman
Sullivan (R-AK) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-3004 @SenDanSullivan
Boozman (R-AR) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-4843 @JohnBoozman
Cassidy (R-LA) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-5824 @BillCassidy
Daines (R-MT) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-2651 @SteveDaines
Hoeven (R-ND) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-2551 @SenJohnHoeven
Kennedy (R-LA) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-4623 @SenJohnKennedy
McCain (R-AZ) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-2235 @SenJohnMcCain
McConnell (R-KY) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-2541 @SenateMajLdr
Young (R-IN) Medicaid Expansion (202) 224-5623 @SenToddYoung

(Make sure to insert the twitter handle of your Senator)

Click to tweet: @SENATORNAME we need to fix healthcare in America. The #BCRA must:
1. Repeal Taxes
2. Reform Medicaid
3. Empower States

Click to tweet: The House AHCA moved the ball forward on repealing parts of the Title I regulations of Obamacare– and now the Senate must finish the job

Click to tweet: @SENATORNAME the #BCRA is NOT a #FullRepeal of Obamacare. Put patients first by repealing taxes, reforming medicaid & empowering states

Click to tweet: Medicaid is unsustainable and ineffective. @SENATORNAME help make serious reforms to fix #Medicaid in #BCRA

Click to tweet: @SENATORNAME stand strong for conservatives & ensure states can opt-out of the harmful regulations of Obamacare in the final #BCRA
Click to tweet: @SENATORNAME work with @tedcruz and @SenMikeLee and make further Conservative reforms to the #BCRA

These are notes to use when calling your member of Congress. You can find their phone number on the Heritage Action Dashboard.

Hi, I’m [NAME] from [STATE].

The House of Representatives took an important first step to unraveling Obamacare by passing an amended version of the AHCA but, {SENATOR’S NAME} needs to continuing pushing for conservative reforms in the final version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act

The Senate should strengthen the current bill by doing the following three things:

  1. Repeal all of the Obamacare taxes included in the House passed bill.
  2. Reform Medicaid by maintaining or improving the current reforms in the House passed bill that rolls back the unaffordable Obamacare Medicaid expansion.
  3. Empower states by giving them the freedom to opt-out of the Obamacare insurance regulations (Title I) responsible for increasing health insurance premiums and undermining choice and competition in the marketplace.

Please tell the Senator to keep the promise you made over the past few years to repeal Obamacare and enact free-market reforms.  

Below is a sample letter to the editor. We encourage you to adapt and personalize it. Heritage Action Regional Coordinators are always here to help edit your letter and get it published.

LTE: Senator X – Obamacare repeal is long overdue, let’s get it done

Last month the House passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), their version of an Obamacare repeal and replace. Though the AHCA was not a full repeal of Obamacare it did move the debate to the Senate.

Now Senator XX and his/her colleagues have an opportunity to make the Senate version, the Better Care Reconciliation Act more conservative. There’s three things that the Senator must push for to ensure the final bill addresses our major concerns here in TOWN.

First, the Senate must make sure that Obamacare taxes are repealed once and for all. The AHCA did just that, and now the Senate must ensure this isn’t diluted in their version of the bill.

Secondly, any Obamacare repeal bill in the Senate should roll back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, lock in new reforms, and make sure we do not bankrupt our nation.

And finally, the Senate’s bill must empower states. The House bill included language that allows states to opt out of some of Obamacare’s burdensome mandates, and it’s important the Senate version gives states the ability to control their insurance markets.

The American people have been waiting for Obamacare repeal for seven years. Now it’s up to the Senate to make it happen by repealing Obamacare’s taxes, rolling back Medicaid expansion and empowering states. Congressman X, it’s time to get it done.

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Welfare Reform: Work Requirements for Food Stamps

Background: First created in the late 1930s as the Food Stamp Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal aid program that provides food-purchasing assistance for low-income families and individuals. SNAP is the second largest mean-tested welfare program in the U.S., providing more than 45 million individuals with food-assistance at a cost of $83.1 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2014 alone.

Problem: Welfare programs, including food stamps, should be temporary, limited in size and scope, and assist those truly in need. But over the past two decades the program has grown out-of-control, both in cost and in the number of individuals receiving benefits. The number of food stamp recipients has increased from around 17 million in 2000 to more than 45 million in 2015, all while costs have risen from $20.7 billion to more than $83 billion during that same time frame.

The goal of any welfare program should be to increase self-sufficiency by helping individuals find a job, provide for their family, and escape the cycle of poverty. As President Ronald Reagan so elegantly put it:

“Welfare needs a purpose: to provide for the needy, of course, but more than that, to salvage these, our fellow citizens, to make them self-sustaining and, as quickly as possible, independent of welfare. We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.”

If we accept how President Reagan defines welfare success, the food stamp program has clearly failed. Perhaps most concerning is the number of able-bodied Americans without children who are now hooked on the program. Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow in Domestic Policy Studies in the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity at the Heritage Foundation, and Rachel Sheffield highlight this concern in their 2016 paper Setting Priorities for Welfare Reform:

“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. ABAWDs who receive food stamps should be required to work, prepare for work, or look for work in exchange for receiving benefits.”

Solution: 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.”

Legislative Solution: Congress should build on the success of the 1996 welfare reform by applying similar principles involving work requirements to SNAP. At a minimum, Congress should enact work requirements for ABAWDs as a condition to receive food stamp benefits. Rep. Garret Graves’ (R-LA) recently introduced Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2996) that would do just that.

This legislation would help reduce poverty and government dependency, increase self-sufficiency, and restore families by strengthening the effective and popular work requirements. 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 FY2018 budget request as well as the House GOP’s FY2017 budget, and it has been implemented in Maine, Kansas, and Alabama with great success.

Call to Action: Heritage Action has endorsed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 and urges Sentinels to contact their members of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor the bill. If passed and signed into law, this legislation would encourage millions of Americans to get back to work, help end the cycle of poverty for individuals dependent on government assistance, and save taxpayers billions of dollars.

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