One of the most controversial issues facing the Congress this summer is whether Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries should work to receive their benefits or not. Monday, Senator Doug Jones (D) weighed in on the issue saying that if Republicans insist on the work requirement the farm bill will not pass the Senate.
“The House of Representatives in their Farm Bill wanted to create a lot of burdensome and onerous work requirements,” Sen. Jones said. “The Senate bill did not do that.”
Now the farm bill is in a conference committee where legislators from both Houses will try to iron out the differences between the two bills. If the committee produces a compromise bill, that conference committee version still has to pass both Houses before it can go to the President’s desk.
“If they try to put those onerous requirements on SNAP it will not pass and we will not get a farm bill passed,” Jones said. “The Senate, even the Republicans, are trying to protect that program.”
The House Republicans have argued that the work requirements for able bodied SNAP benefits (most Americans still call the benefits “food stamps”) will encourage more able-bodied poor people to get jobs and contribute to the booming economy. The work requirements would not apply to the disabled, children, the elderly, or persons enrolled in a federally approved job training program.
“That is a poison pill that could derail the whole thing,” Sen. Jones said. “And we really need a farm bill for our farmers.”
For decades, federal farm programs and food stamps (SNAP) were combined under the Department of Agriculture. Combining supplemental nutrition assistance with farm programs like crop insurance, the conservation reserve program (CRP), conservation assistance, and commodity price supports meant that Congress members that represented poor urban districts and rural districts where agriculture is vitally important both have reasons to support the combined legislation – the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill sets agricultures and SNAP policy for the next five years.
Sen. Jones said that President Donald J. Trump (R) is trying to move SNAP out of the Department of Agriculture; but Jones doubted that that governmental organization would pass out of the Senate.
Jones’s comments were made in his second town hall event. The town hall was held at the historic Parker High School in Birmingham, Alabama’s largest city.
The event was emceed by State Representative Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) who represents the area in the Alabama legislature.
Doug Jones is the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate in 25 years. He was elected on December 12 to finish the remainder of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) term. Blacks, including the families in the Parker High School area, overwhelmingly came out in numbers to elect Jones over former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore. Jones faces re-election in 2020.