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Debt Deal Imposes New Work Requirements For Food Aid

By 06/04/2023 6:09 PMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff

With Republicans demanding more significant cuts in the coming years, Democrats are highly concerned over the food aid requirements that President Joe Biden negotiated as part of the debt ceiling agreement.

They worry that harm has been done to safety net programs that will be impossible to undo.

The White House and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., focused their negotiations on toughening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) job requirements until the end.

It was the most significant point of contention, as both sides’ negotiators made it plain in public and in private, and it nearly caused the discussions to collapse multiple times.

Ultimately, Democrats reluctantly agreed to trade some able-bodied consumers of food aid for more demanding criteria.

Republicans concurred to remove some labor requirements for homeless individuals, veterans, and other groups.

A compromise that satisfied both sides was reached due to the contentious back-and-forth, but many Democrats struggled over whether to support the package that Biden signed on Saturday.

Many people found it challenging to reconcile restricting food access for disadvantaged groups with the result that prevented the United States from going into financial default.

Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo, said, “We then turned around and made our most vulnerable communities default for this country to not default on its bills.”

Years before she was elected to Congress, Bush’s then-husband had two small children, and she lived in a car after being evicted from their rental home.

The federal assistance program offers low-income people and families monthly funding, often as little as $6 per day, to enable them to purchase groceries.

According to the Food and Nutrition Service of the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program, it is the most extensive nationwide program aimed at preventing hunger, with 41 million people utilizing benefits to buy food last year alone.

By 2025, non-disabled persons who are 49 to 54 years old without dependents will be subject to additional criteria.

If those people choose to receive SNAP benefits for over three months during three years, they must work or attend training programs for at least 80 hours per month.

Despite several studies showing they do not affect employment, Republicans have attempted to increase work requirements for these government aid programs for decades, saying that doing so leads to more individuals returning to the workforce.

“We’re going to make these programs more of a life preserver than a way of life. According to Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, the American approach has always been to give a hand up rather than a handout.

To balance out the number of people who would now be subject to these new restrictions, the White House persuaded GOP lawmakers to waive the work requirements for new groups, including veterans, people who are homeless or face housing instability, and youth aging out of foster care.

The eventual consequence might be an increase in SNAP enrollment overall. According to a Congressional Budget Office estimate made public on Tuesday, the amendments to the debt ceiling package would result in an average monthly increase of about 80,000 SNAP beneficiaries.

The left wing of the Democratic Party, which includes senators who had supported Biden and helped pass his agenda for the first two years of his presidency, was nevertheless disappointed by the conclusion due to the trade-off that appeared to benefit specific groups while harming others.

That was particularly true in light of warnings from activists, such as the nonpartisan National Alliance to End Homelessness, about a troubling national trend of increasing the number of older persons who are becoming homeless, some for the first time.

Bush remarked that the oppression Olympics are something we shouldn’t be participating in. “Like, who gets injured today?

Which one will cross the line first and suffer today? As a civilization, we shouldn’t be there.

After spending days hearing from advocacy groups and constituents about the problem, Bush, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, voted “no” on the debt ceiling agreement on Wednesday night.


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