Donald Trump has offered a controversial proposal that would allow more than 700,000 people to be kicked off food stamps — with the move coming just days before Christmas.
As Salon reported, the Trump administration is proposing new restrictions to waivers that states can place on food stamps, making it harder for them to create exemptions that keep people on the food supplement program. The new rules would only allow states to create exemptions in areas where unemployment is above 7 percent, a change from the current rules that allow any areas that are at least 20 percent greater than the national rate to waive requirements that adults must either work or participate in a job-training program for 20 hours a week.
That would make it significantly harder for states to provide food stamps, as the national unemployment rate is currently 3.7 percent.
As Salon noted, Trump’s proposal would circumvent Congress’s control over the food stamps program, which has drawn backlash from Democrats.
“Congress writes laws, and the administration is required to write rules based on the law,” Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow told the New York Times, via Salon. “Administrative changes should not be driven by ideology. I do not support unilateral and unjustified changes that would take food away from families.”
Donald Trump highlighted the changes when signing the farm bill on Thursday, saying that the strong economy meant those seeking food assistance would have to find work in order to stay in the program.
Donald Trump Wishes You Merry Xmas! By Sidestepping Congress, Trump is Proposing More Work Rules For 40M Poor Americans on SNAP #FoodStamps..did the Wealthy have to qualify for $1.5T #GOPTaxCuts besides being rich? Next: #TrumpWorkhouses? #PovertyInAmerica https://t.co/kfKa562PDi— AMC (@Truthbuster) December 20, 2018
“Under this new rule able-bodied adults without dependents will have to work or look for work in order to receive their food stamps. Today’s action will help Americans transition from welfare to gainful employment, strengthening families and uplifting communities. And that was a difficult thing to get done,” Trump said at the signing event, via ABC News.
The decision — and especially the timing just days before Christmas — drew backlash from advocacy groups that say children and the elderly will likely be hit hardest by the new food stamps restrictions. Robert Campbell, policy director for the anti-hunger group Feeding America, told ABC News that the rule change will only punish people who have difficulty finding a job. He said that restriction in food supplements will not make it any easier for them to find work. Others said that the rule went against the bipartisan agreement that members of Congress found on the farm bill, undercutting one of the few measures that Democrats and Republicans were able to agree on.