U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, joined 64 House colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue supporting work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents before they can obtain Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program welfare benefits, commonly still referred to as food stamps.
“Americans who can work should earn the money they need to buy their food,” Congressman Brooks said. “It is wrong to let slackers live off the work of taxpayers. With unemployment at 4.0% (a mere three-tenths higher than the all-time low) and 7.3 million current job openings, work opportunities are abundant. It is selfish and irresponsible to allow able-bodied adults to vote for a living rather than work for one.”
“According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2016, there were 3.8 million able-bodied adults without dependents on food stamps, with 2.8 million (nearly 74%) not working.” Said Brooks. “Imposing work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents save American taxpayers $15 billion over ten years. Washington should embrace this savings given America’s reckless and out-of-control deficits (projected $900 billion deficit expected this year) and debt (America’s national debt recently blew through the $22 trillion mark). America simply cannot afford to continue spending money we don’t have, have to borrow to get, and cannot afford to pay back on food for people who should be working for a living. I am grateful to the Trump Administration for taking steps to restrict food stamp access for people who can work, and I fully support work requirements that get people off the government dole.”
Last year the then Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a Farm Bill with work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries. Under the GOP House bill able-bodied SNAP beneficiaries were required to work twenty hours a week or be enrolled in a government-approved job training program to receive the benefits.
The work could be private employment or even volunteer work with a government agency, local government, non-profit group, or even a Church. Democrats opposed the work requirement so passing the bill with the work requirements was impossible in the Senate where sixty votes are required. The work requirements were removed from the Farm Bill in conference committee. The Trump Administration has said that they will impose the requirement through administrative action. A lot of this has been delayed by the partial government shutdown.
Unemployment is near all-time lows and employers have plenty of open positions available if people would simply apply themselves. Republicans believe that increasing labor force participation will grow the economy and requiring able bodied people to work would stop some people from gaming the system such as working off the books and still collecting welfare benefits. Democrats are largely opposed. The disabled, parents with children, and the elderly would not have to perform the work requirements.
Mo Brooks represents the Fifth Congressional District.