Policymakers are ready to get serious about work requirements for food stamps, with both Congress and the Trump administration working on ways to improve the program.

A little over a week ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it is seeking comments on how best to reintroduce work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often referred to as food stamps.

“Too many states have asked to waive work requirements, abdicating their responsibility to move participants to self-sufficiency,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a press release. “ … [U.S. Department of Agriculture] policies must change if they contribute to a long-term failure for many [food stamp] participants and their families.”

The 1996 welfare reform law allowed states to apply for full or partial waivers of the work requirement based on high unemployment or low job availability. The number of waivers peaked in 2009, when Congress allowed the Obama administration to waive the program’s work requirements for all states.


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