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Republicans mull major changes to food stamps to cut federal spending

As the fight over raising the US debt ceiling threatens to plunge the country off of a financial cliff, lawmakers are weighing proposals that could significantly narrow the scope of federal food assistance benefits.

A series of budget points were rolled out by the Republican Study Committee late last year that aim to raise work requirements and cut back eligibility windows for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

It’s among one of the places House Republicans are eyeing to cut overall federal spending.

They’ve made clear that they will not support a clean debt limit increase without offsetting it with cutbacks elsewhere.led by the , however, have insisted that raising the debt ceiling should not be a bargaining chip. 

More than 40 million people receive government food assistance, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Republicans under House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (above) are insisting against a clean debt limit increase, without offsetting it with future spending decreases 

The Biden administration revised its standards in 2021 which resulted in the largest increase to the program in its history.

Republicans have hammered the White House over it, which argued it was following a provision in a 2018 law passed by a Republican Congress, which had mandated a review of the program by the Department of Agriculture.

House Budget Committee Chair Jodey Arrington (R-TX) reportedly signaled to the that he’d consider a return to Bill Clinton and House Republicans’ reforms of the mid-1990s that saw dramatic cutbacks in welfare programs.

Clinton had campaigned on a promise to ‘end welfare as we know it,’ while House Republicans led by Newt Gingrich made cutting federal aid dollars a cornerstone of their successful Contract With America midterm election push.

‘We need to go back to the Clinton-era welfare-to-work reforms,’ Arrington is quoted as saying.

At one of the RSC’s regular luncheon last month, Chairman Kevin Hern (R-OK) unveiled a set of proposals to cut back on discretionary spending and advancing ‘targeted, paid-for, pro-growth tax policies’ among others.

The set of proposals, obtained by, also includes calls to enact ‘inflation-busting reforms to increase domestic energy capacity and reduce associated regulatory and permitting barriers.’

Hern’s plan would also streamline ‘duplicative programs’ and attempt to avert another such crisis by codifying ‘procedures to ensure the federal government honors certain critical obligations’ like debt payments, veterans’ care, social security and Medicare.

Meanwhile a group of five conservative House Republicans wrote to President Joe Biden last week calling for increased work requirements for receiving federal aid, also invoking the Clinton-era Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.

President Joe Biden has insisted that raising the debt ceiling is an obligation of the federal government, and denounced Republican negotiation calls as intentional stonewalling

‘Work requirements for able-bodied adults promote community engagement and a transition to self-sufficiency,’ the letter by Reps Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Dan Bishop (R-NC) reads.

‘These proposals would build on actions taken by the Trump administration to crack down on states’ abuse of waivers for able-bodied adults, which began under the Obama administration.’

They argued that ‘commonsense’ reforms to the welfare system would save the federal government ‘billions of dollars.’

Raising work requirements for f SNAP specifically, they argue, ‘will better position funding for people in need while incentivizing able-bodied people to return to the workforce.’

‘These incentives will prevent the condemnation of SNAP beneficiaries to a life of dependency; instead, incentives will restore their dignity,’ the lawmakers said. 

A top executive at nonprofit Feeding America told the Post, ‘We are strained to the breaking point with a major increase in demand coming next month.’

‘It is deeply disturbing to contemplate even further reductions to the SNAP program,’ he said.