President Trump and his administration are considering doing to the food stamp program what most Americans have been dreaming of for years. According to an administration official, a proposal to drug test snap recipients is now under review which would be applied mostly to people who are able-bodied. And those who have no dependents and who apply for some specialized jobs.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said roughly 5 percent of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, could be affected.
Although this would affect a small number of food stamp recipients it’s a good start. And another positive step in the Trump administration’s push to allow state governments more flexibility on how they go about implementing federal programs which serve the needy, unemployed and uninsured, which also wants to give states the right to implement stricter work requirements for food stamp recipients. This initiative has garnered a lot of support from GOP governors who want to have greater control of their state’s finances.
Here is more on this new initiative via KRISTV:
“Internal emails obtained by The Associated Press indicated that Agriculture Department officials in February were awaiting word from the White House about the timing of a possible drug testing announcement.
“I think we just have to be ready because my guess is we may get an hour’s notice instead of a day’s notice,” wrote Jessica Shahin, associate administrator of SNAP.
Conservative policymakers have pushed for years to tie food assistance programs to drug testing.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, sued the USDA in 2015 for blocking the state from drug testing adults applying for food stamps.
A federal judge tossed the suit in 2016, but Walker renewed his request for permission later that year, after Donald Trump had won the presidency but before he took office.
“We turned that down,” said former USDA Food and Nutrition Service Undersecretary Kevin Concannon, who served in the position under the Obama administration from 2009 until January of last year. “It’s costly and cumbersome.
The proposal is not expected to be included in a GOP-written farm bill expected to be released as soon as early this week, a GOP aide said.
Federal law bars states from imposing their own conditions on food stamp eligibility.
Still, some states have tried to implement some form of drug testing for the food assistance program, so far with little success.
Judges have blocked similar efforts in other states. In Florida in 2014, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling that drug testing SNAP recipients is unconstitutional.
But at least 20 states have introduced legislation to screen safety net program participants in some capacity, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In December, Walker began moving ahead with a workaround, drug testing participants in the state’s Employment and Training Program who also received food stamps.
USDA under Trump has not taken a public position on drug testing. But Secretary Sonny Perdue has promised to provide states with “greater control over SNAP.”
“As a former governor, I know first-hand how important it is for states to be given flexibility to achieve the desired goal of self-sufficiency for people,” he said. “We want to provide the nutrition people need, but we also want to help them transition from government programs, back to work, and into lives of independence.”
The emails obtained by the AP suggest that a plan could be forthcoming.
The plan would apply to able-bodied people who do not have dependents and are applying for certain jobs, such as operating heavy machinery, the official said.
In a February 15 email to USDA officials, Maggie Lyons, chief of staff to an acting official at the Food and Nutrition Service, said, “We need to have a conversation about timing given budget and when the (White House) wants us to release drug testing.”
If the administration moves forward, it would not be the first time drug testing was used in a safety net program. At least 15 states have passed laws allowing them to drug-test recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, also known as welfare.
It’s nice to see the Trump administration continue to do what’s right for the American people. Any of us can go through tough economic times, and a safety net should exist, but the truth of the matter is that the current way the safety net is being run isn’t in the best interest of the taxpayer.
If most jobs out there require you to take a drug test and maintain a drug-free life, in order to hire you, why can’t we ask the same of welfare recipients? If I have to be drug-free to make the money which is given to the poor why can’t I ask the poor to take the same tests I have to take in order to make that money they will be receiving? It’s only fair and logical, don’t you agree?