Republican plan would limit food aid for nearly 1 million people, USDA says

Nearly one million Americans could find it harder to access federal food aid under a Republican proposal to expand the program’s work requirements, according to the Biden administration, which has promised to veto the plan if it passes Congress.

The expanded work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were included in a plan released last week by Republican House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy to cut federal spending and raise the debt ceiling. The House could vote on the plan as soon as Wednesday.

Under the proposal, adults aged 18 to 56 without disabilities or dependents would need to work or participate in a job training program at least 20 hours a week to receive SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps, for more than three months. Existing SNAP work requirements apply only to such adults up to age 50.

The expansion could affect nearly 1 million people, said a U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesperson. About 42.4 million people are receiving SNAP benefits this year, the agency said.

“Evidence shows expanding SNAP’s three-month time limit to more struggling workers will do more harm than good for our workforce, local economies, and for addressing hunger,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

Anti-hunger advocates have criticized the proposal, warning that it could make hunger worse at a time when scores of Americans are already struggling to afford food due to inflation and shrinking federal benefits.

The plan has little chance of passing the majority Democratic Senate, and the White House has said President Joe Biden would veto the bill if it reached his desk.

(Reporting by Leah Douglas; editing by Jonathan Oatis)