USDA signaled on Tuesday plans to give states greater flexibility over how they administer food stamps, potentially opening the door to stricter work requirements or drug testing on recipients.
The announcement comes as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced that he would move ahead with drug testing on able-bodied adults applying for food stamps, something the Obama administration had successfully blocked in the past. The Trump administration is also expected to announced that it would allow states to impose work requirements for Medicaid recipients — moves that anti-poverty advocates see as an assault on the safety net for vulnerable Americans.
Republicans have long sought to rein in programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps, a more than $70 billion program that now helps roughly 1 in 8 Americans.
“SNAP was created to provide people with the help they need to feed themselves and their families, but it was not intended to be a permanent lifestyle,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “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. 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."