Congressman Garret Graves, who represents Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District, has introduced a bill which would redefine welfare requirements. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017: it’s a mouth full, but it would ultimately serve to fight poverty, support families and promote self-sufficiency while helping stem a tide of government dependence, according to Graves. He says it will build on the mandatory federal work requirements for SNAP assistance that have proven successful since the 1996 welfare reform package.
This bill, specifically, would require “able-bodied, unemployed adults without dependents who are receiving food stamps to undergo a ‘supervised job search’ for at least eight hours a week,” as reported by Business Report. What is a “supervised job search?” The bill defines it as one that:
- Occurs at an official location where the presence and activity of the recipient can be directly observed, supervised and monitored
- Records (in a non-fraudulent manner) the entry, time onsite, and exit of the recipient from the job search location
- Requires the recipient to remain and undertake job search activities at the job search center
- Reserves and monitors the amount of time the recipient engages in a job search at the official location (for compliance purposes)
The bill would further require states to terminate food stamp benefits to those who do not meet the requirements, and if the states fail to comply, they would lose 10 percent of federal food stamp money for each quarter.
It is Graves’ hope that this bill will motivate Americans to get back to work, rather than simply accept the government’s assistance. In a press release, he shared his sentiment:
“There are talented people across our country who aren’t pursuing the full potential of their capabilities largely because government incentives make it more profitable in some cases to stay home and collect welfare than to pursue personal growth and responsibility through work. Government needs to provide a safety net for the vulnerable, but it’s become a lifestyle for some to actively choose government assistance over work – that’s a disservice to those people, the economy and the taxpayer. We have to restructure incentives to achieve the outcomes we want and to get capable people off the sidelines and involved in building America’s future. This bill is a small step toward that goal.”
In a statement supporting the bill, the Heritage Foundation asserted just how necessary it is that we find a solution to the growing problem of welfare, pointing out that “From 2000 to 2015, food stamp recipients increased by more than 28 million and cost the government $83.1 billion in [fiscal year] 2014 alone.”
We’ve seen some states bump up the work requirements for welfare and produce remarkable results. When certain counties in Alabama brought back work requirements for food stamps, the number of those enrolled decreased dramatically, costing the tax payers much less.
If this bill passes, and we hope it does, we can expect good things to come. It’s a push in the right direction for our economy.