New food stamp requirements coming? Proponents say that “people who can work must work”

Drazen Zygek /


The battle over food stamp reform escalated considerably on Tuesday, March 14, when nearly two dozen Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that would change the program’s eligibility requirements.

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The bill, sponsored by Principal Rep. Dusty Johnson (RS.D), proposes implementing stricter work requirements for healthy adults without children, USA Today reports. A total of 23 Republicans co-sponsored the bill, called the American Works Act. Among its proposals are:

  • Raising the maximum age for employment requirements from 49 to 65

  • Limiting the state’s ability to waive labor requirements

  • Emphasize work requirements for healthy, childless adults

Food stamps, formally known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, provide assistance with food purchases for eligible, low-income families. SNAP is overseen and administered at the state level by the United States Department of Agriculture.

As noted by USA Today, the proposed bill will likely lead to a showdown between Republicans and Democrats as they negotiate the farm bill later this year. The Farm Act is the nation’s largest comprehensive agricultural and food policy act and is negotiated every five years.

Although the American Business Act may have a chance of passing through the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, it remains to be seen if it will pass the Senate, where Democrats have a narrow advantage.

Johnson, a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, relied on food stamps as a child. National Review reports that after his re-election in November 2022, Johnson has discussed his intentions to change SNAP’s work requirements.

“Work is an opportunity,” Johnson told supporters on election day in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “There’s no recipe for escaping poverty that doesn’t work as a requirement.”

Supporters say this bill is vital to reducing cycles of poverty while saving taxpayers money, Politico noted, and is the first of many expected efforts to end SNAP by the Republican Party. House Democrats have not announced their response to the bill and have raised concerns about whether they can afford to blow up the program during negotiations over the debt limit, budget and farm bill for 2023.

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During the pandemic, SNAP’s expanded benefits have provided much-needed relief to struggling families. The benefits boosted your monthly SNAP payment by $95. Many of them also received a 15% increase that increased the average monthly benefit per capita to more than $240, GOBankingRates previously reported. SNAP emergency benefits expired March 1 nationwide.

Vance Carriaga contributed to this article.

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This article originally appeared on Are New Food Stamp Requirements Coming? Proponents say that “people who can work must work”