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The House of Representatives defeated a bill Friday that would have weakened the ability of vulnerable Americans to get the help they need from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The House voted down the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, 213 to 198, with all Democrats and 30 Republicans voting no.
SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is the nation’s largest federal nutrition program, a safety net that protects 43 million Americans, including 8.7 million households with someone age 50 or older.
The farm bill, which included funding for SNAP, would have expanded the program’s work and job training requirements to people ages 50 to 59 and adults with children over age 6 who are physically able to work. Currently, SNAP work requirements apply only to childless adults ages 18 to 49 who don’t have disabilities.
The bill also would have set tighter time frames for SNAP recipients to find work and stiffened the penalties if they didn’t. SNAP recipients covered under the work requirement would have had to document each month that they were working or receiving job training for 20 hours a week. The first time an individual didn’t comply with that requirement would trigger a loss of benefits for a year. Failure to comply again would result in a loss of SNAP benefits for three years.
“Most individuals who receive SNAP benefits and are required to work are already working. Expanding work requirements for SNAP would be especially challenging for older workers ages 50-59 who have a more difficult time finding employment after a period of unemployment,” said Nancy A. LeaMond, AARP's executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer, in a letter sent to Congress this week opposing the House measure.
LeaMond urged Congress to “work to reauthorize a bipartisan farm bill that protects the critical nutritional assistance SNAP provides to this nation’s most vulnerable populations.”