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Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

SNAP Work Requirements

May 17, 2018
Speeches

Amendment offered by Congressman McClintock to H.R. 2  – Agriculture and Nutrition Act

SNAP Work Requirements
Committee of the Whole House
May 17, 2018

Mr. Chairman:

This amendment does two things.  It increases from 20 percent to 70 percent the percentage of able bodied adults in SNAP who would be required to comply with the work requirements in the bill.  And it requires the use of the e-verify system to assure that job training is provided only to those legally residing in this country and entitled to work here.  

H.R. 2 requires that work-capable, non-employed adults look for work or train for work in order to receive SNAP benefits.  That’s important.  When Maine implemented a work requirement for able-bodied welfare recipients, they found that 84 percent of this population left the welfare rolls and within a year had doubled their effective pay.  Alabama saw the same results.

Unfortunately, H.R. 2 would only engage about 20 percent of this population.  Twenty percent.

My amendment would boost the work-participation rate to 70 percent of able-bodied adults in the program.  It does so by implementing changes recommended by the Heritage Foundation. 

H.R. 2’s work requirement exempts parents of children under age 6.  This amendment reduces the exemption to those with children the age of 3.  

Second, H.R. 2 requires both couples in married households to meet the measure’s work requirements.  This is in effect a marriage penalty that treats married couples as if they were single.  My amendment applies to only one spouse in a family, allowing the parents to share domestic and work responsibilities between themselves in any manner they feel is appropriate.  This recognizes, encourages and rewards marriage as the stable and nurturing environment that it is.

H.R. 2 allows states to waive the work requirement in geographic areas defined by them with higher than normal unemployment rates above six percent.  

This amendment deletes the waiver for an important reason: where there is high unemployment, there is all the more reason to encourage job training and job searching in order to equip recipients to compete in tighter job markets.  Sidelining these individuals is self-defeating for them and for the local economies.  

Also, the amendment removes the ability of states to gerrymander these geographic areas in a manner that defeats the work requirement in the first place.

H.R. 2 also allows states to exempt an additional 15 percent of the able-bodied population from the work requirement.  This amendment reduces that to five percent.

Finally, this amendment requires that SNAP recipients be screened by the e-verify system to assure that taxpayer financed job training is provided only to those legally in this country and thus legally entitled to work here.  

This amendment transforms the work requirement in H.R. 2 from an empty and symbolic gesture covering just one fifth of the able-bodied population receiving food stamps to nearly three fourths of that population.  Based on experience, we can expect more than 80 percent of them to find jobs in the first year and vastly better their circumstances.  And it rewards, rather than penalizes, married couples by recognizing that the shared responsibilities of marriage are one of the single greatest factors in reducing poverty.  Children born into homes with single parents are five times more likely to live in poverty and it is time our policies reflected the importance of marriage in protecting children from poverty.

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