House Considering Major SNAP Reform

This week House Republicans will consider legislation (H.R. 3102) that will reform federal nutrition programs and save taxpayers over $40 billion dollars.  This bill will round out the House's work on the Farm Bill, which is composed of both nutrition spending and agriculture spending. By splitting the nutrition and ag titles into two separate bills before the Congressional recess, the House is now able to seriously debate the merits of each title.  With H.R. 3102, House Republicans are now in a position to enact comprehensive SNAP reform by closing loopholes and cracking down on fraud.  Importantly, this ensures that when the House conferences with the Senate on a comprehensive Farm Bill, the House will be entering the negotiations with a strong template for reforming nutrition spending.

H.R. 3102 will close the “Categorical Eligibility” Loophole and reinstate asset and income tests.  This loophole currently allows most households to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) even if they receive minimal assistance from another federal program.  Receiving a TANF brochure or being referred to a social services hotline is enough qualification.  The House bill would restrict SNAP categorical eligibility to households receiving need-tested cash assistance, ensuring that resources are targeted to populations that are actually in need.

The bill will allow states to strengthen work requirements and diminish perverse federal incentives that encourage states to expand, not shrink, their welfare rolls.  Elimination of state work requirement waivers will ensure that 4 million able-bodied adults engage in work activities while receiving SNAP benefits. Cracking down on fraud, waste and abuse, the bill will also guarantee that lottery winners and the deceased do not receive SNAP benefits. 

By moving SNAP to a three year authorization instead of five (like the agricultural bill), SNAP will be decoupled from commodities. This will require agriculture and welfare policy to be scrutinized independently of one another. These reforms, among other common sense measures in H.R. 3201, offer ten times more savings than what is contained in the Senate Farm bill. Passing SNAP reform in the House will give Republicans a leg up when conferencing with the Senate, and lead the charge for taxpayer savings.