It wasn’t long ago that a few select states began implementing an “able-bodied” requirement for people on welfare — where they’re required to find some level of employment while receiving government benefits.
During the Obama years, when welfare rose significantly, many pointed out the problem of drug addicted recipients living off the system and not contributing to society. Some then proposed that in order to receive benefits, the person be drug tested.
Of course that would’ve never happened under Obama’s reign… but there’s a new sheriff in town.
Fox News reports:
The Trump administration is considering adopting a plan that would allow states to require mandatory drug testing for some food stamp recipients, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
The proposal is another step in the White House’s push to allow states more flexibility in implementing federal programs for the poor. It also wants to allow states to tighten work requirements for food stamp recipients.
Federal law currently prohibits states from imposing their own conditions on food stamp eligibility. However, at least 20 states have introduced legislation to screen safety net program participants in some capacity, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
An administration official told The AP the drug testing plan would mostly apply to people who are able-bodied, without dependents and seeking some specialized jobs. The official estimated that roughly five percent of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) could be affected.
Internal emails obtained by The AP indicated that Agriculture Department officials in February were awaiting word from the White House about the timing of a possible 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 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.”
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.
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