The Issue:

Food Stamps

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.

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.  

Our Position

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.

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CO-SPONSORSHIP of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2996)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2996), introduced by Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), 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.

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Jul 17, 2017

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Committee Chairman's Unwillingness to Cut Spending Delays Budget Process and Threatens Tax Reform

Washington—The House Budget Committee postponed plans to unveil and markup the 2018 fiscal year budget resolution that would have provided a blueprint to save taxpayers $200 billion in real mandatory cuts over ten years and pave the way for comprehensive, pro-growth tax reform. At the heart of the problem is the unwillingness from the committee chairman to find reasonable savings within his jurisdiction. For example, Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) reportedly told House Budget Committee Chair Diane Black (R-Tenn.) that he couldn't find even minimal savings from his committee. Heritage Action released the following statement from Vice President Dan Holler:

"Chairman Conaway's apparent unwillingness to cut a paltry amount of federal spending from his committee is a slap in the face to American taxpayers and jeopardizes historic tax reform. The farm bill alone is projected to cost nearly $1 trillion over the next ten years, and work requirements for food stamps for abled-bodied adults without dependents alone would yield significant savings."

The Heritage Foundation's detailed federal budget for fiscal year 2018 provides a list of reforms that would reduce total spending by $10 trillion over the next ten years. On March 25, 2015, 237 House Republicans voted in favor of a budget resolution (H. CON. RES. 27) that recommended "mandatory agricultural outlays, other than food and nutrition programs, will be reduced by $23 billion relative to the currently anticipated levels from fiscal year 2016 through fiscal year 2025." Chairman Conaway supported that resolution. The fiscal year 2017 budget proposed the same level of reductions. Holler continued:

"Republican committee chairs have long voted to cut wasteful spending in largely symbolic budget resolutions. Now that it's a live fire exercise, it's an affront to the American people that some are now wavering."

On specific programs, Chairman Conaway joined 182 of his House Republican colleagues in 2013 in voting in favor of $15 billion in savings derived from placing a cap on the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs.

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Jun 27, 2017

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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 MaineKansas, 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.***

 

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Jun 22, 2017

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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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Jun 22, 2017

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