Trump considering drug testing food stamp recipients, Gov. Walker on board

President Donald Trump listens as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington Tuesday

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, condemned the Trump administration Thursday for reportedly considering a proposal that would allow states to drug test certain food stamp recipients - a policy which he called "insulting and unconscionable".

While the proposed changes to one of the nation's largest anti-poverty programs are still controversial, they are more moderate than what the Trump administration had proposed earlier in the year and have something that could appease conservatives and liberals.

The work requirement for adults aged 18 to 59 would not apply to the elderly, disabled people, pregnant women, or adults caring for children younger than 6.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway has tried to head off criticism that the broader work requirements would kick people off SNAP by increasing funding for training programs and expanding the list of activities that would meet that training requirement.

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He called for careful study before imposing additional work requirements on Nebraskans getting public benefits, saying he is not convinced that there are many people getting benefits who could be working and are not doing so.

The think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said a multi-faceted and effective job training system for SNAP could easily cost $1 billion a month nationwide, far more than the annual $1 billion in the Conaway bill, based on the track record of work requirements for federally supported welfare.

Judges have blocked similar efforts in other states. "I don't have anything against people that get food stamps".

Sykes saysthe American Public Human Services Association is still mulling over whether three years is enough time to ramp up their training programs.

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AP estimates that around five percent of SNAP recipients, or 2 million people, would be affected by the Trump administration's plan. In March, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill that requires ABAWDs to work or volunteer at least 20 hours a week to receive benefits. Children, seniors and people with disabilities make up about two-thirds of SNAP recipients.

Some households would see a slight boost in benefits because government offices would now subtract a larger percentage of their earned income when calculating people's benefits. "If the administration wants to help these people, it ought to be advancing that they get paid a livable wage".

Currently, federal law prevents states from deciding their own conditions for people to be eligible for food assistance.

"The drug testing proposal is another step in the Trump administration's push to allow states more flexibility in how they implement federal programs that serve the poor, unemployed or uninsured", according to AP. Forty-two states now use broad-based categorical eligibility. While Republicans in the House don't need Democratic votes to pass the bill, Republicans in the Senate do. All of those state legislatures have Republican legislative majorities.

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