Nutrition Bill Passes House
Created by rrummel on 9/20/2013 11:29:35 AM

Summary of the Bill


Executive Summary:  H.R. 3102 includes provisions contained in H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, including:

  • Reinstating the asset and income test in the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) law by limiting categorical program eligibility to only those households receiving cash assistance from other low-income programs;
  • Closing a loophole related to Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) payments that increases SNAP benefits;
  • Eliminating state performance bonuses;
  • Preventing USDA and states from advertising or promoting SNAP;
  • Cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse by ending SNAP benefits for lottery winners and traditional college students, demanding outcomes from the SNAP Employment and Training program, and increasing oversight of SNAP programs for the homeless, elderly, and disabled; and
  • Improving the quality of SNAP-approved retail stores.

H.R. 3102 includes amendments added during floor consideration of H.R. 3102, including:

  • Allowing states to conduct pilot projects that adopt TANF-type work requirements for able-bodied adults with children (with the exception of those individuals with a federally-qualified disability, individuals with sole responsibility for care of child under age one or under age six if no child care is available). States have the ability to sanction individuals who refuse to participate in 20 hours per week of work activities and will share in 50 percent of savings that result from moving people off SNAP;
  • Allowing states to conduct drug testing on SNAP applicants as a condition for receiving benefits (similar to reforms put into UI); and
  • Ending eligibility for SNAP for convicted violent rapists, pedophiles and murderers (for new beneficiaries).

H.R. 3102 includes additional reforms totaling $20 billion in savings, including:

  • Decoupling SNAP from farm commodities, authorizing the program for three years;
  • Removing states’ ability to obtain waivers for the work requirement for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs). ABAWDs are required to work 20 hours per week.  The elimination of the waivers ensures that four million able-bodied adults without dependents are required to engage in work activities; and

Building on incentives for states to opt-in to the work requirements for able-bodied adults with dependents – allowing only those states that adopt TANF-type work requirements in SNAP to receive 50 percent federal match for employment and training activities.

Background:  SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program, is intended to provide benefits to low income households.  It has been reauthorized by the farm bill since 1973 and was last reauthorized by the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008.[1]  While the United States Department of Agriculture is responsible for administering SNAP, states have frameworks in place to implement the program.[2] As of 2012, 48 million Americans participated in SNAP, with benefits averaging $133 per month.[3]

Households are eligible for benefits if they meet one of two tests: (1) financial tests that require beneficiaries to demonstrate monthly income and liquid assets below statutory limits (adjusted for inflation); or (2) categorical tests that allow beneficiaries of other means-tested support such as Temporary Assistance of Needy Families (TANF), supplemental security income (SSI), and state General Assistance (GA) to be automatically eligible to receive SNAP. [4]  According to CRS, “the breadth of this categorical option results particularly from the option to grant SNAP eligibility to those who receive a TANF-funded benefit.  As TANF is a flexible block grant with a wide range of allowable expenditures, this means any TANF benefit or services, not just traditional cash welfare, can result in categorical eligibility for SNAP.”[5]  

In addition to financial eligibility, most individuals who are considered “able-bodied” adults must meet a work requirement, including: (1) register for work; (2) accept a suitable job if offered one; (3) fulfill any work, job search, or training requirements established by administering SNAP agencies; (4) provide the administering public assistance agency with sufficient information to allow a determination with respect to their job availability; and (5) not voluntarily quit a job without good cause or reduce work effort below 30 hours a week.[6]   The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Welfare Reform) set forth additional work requirements for childless able-bodied adults (ABAWDs) aged 18-49.  Specifically, welfare reform limited the time frame ABAWD’s could receive benefits to a three out of 36 month period, unless an ABAWD could demonstrate that s/he was: (1) working at least 20 hours a week; (2) participating in an employment and training program for at least 20 hours a week; or (3) participating in a SNAP workfare program for at least 20 hours a week.[7]

However, welfare reform also allowed states to waive the ABAWD requirements for “(1) areas with unemployment exceeding 10 percent; or (2) areas that do not have sufficient numbers of jobs to provide employment for individuals.”[8] In addition, up to 15 percent of ABAWDs could be exempted by a state on its own initiative.[9]  The 2009 stimulus bill provided a nationwide waiver to the 1996 work requirements from April 2009 to September 30, 2010.  Since then, the Administration has used the extended unemployment benefits to extend waivers to the work requirement for ABAWDs in 49 states and territories.[10]

[6] See id at 10. Those individuals who are exempt from the work requirements by law include: individuals physically or mentally unfit for work; under age 16 or over age 59; between ages 16 and 18 if they are not a head of household or are attending school or a training program; persons working at least 30 hours a week or earning the minimum wage equivalent; persons caring for dependents who are disabled or under age 6; those caring for children between ages 6 and 12 if adequate child care is not available (this second exemption is limited to allowing these persons to refuse a job offer if care is not available); individuals already subject to and complying with another assistance program's work, training, or job search requirements (for example, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF] or unemployment compensation); eligible postsecondary students; and residents of substance abuse treatment programs. (See id).

 

Cost:  According to CBO, H.R. 3102 would “make several changes to the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) and extend its authorization for three years.  In its May 2013 baseline, CBO projected that spending for SNAP would total $764 billion over the 2014-2023 period. Relative to that baseline, we estimate that enacting H.R. 3102 would reduce direct spending by $39 billion over the 2013-2024 period.”[1]