U.S. Reps. John Ratcliffe (R-4th) and Lance Gooden (R-5th) are two of nine Texas Republican congressmen to sign a letter to U.S. Agriculture Commissioner Sonny Perdue on Tuesday, praising the USDA’s proposal to require able-bodied adults without dependents to have some kind of job in order to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
In the letter, 64 GOP lawmakers decried what they called the “increased administrative flexibility” of the program. That refers to exemptions that some states use to waive some level of income requirements as a basis for receiving SNAP benefits.
Texas does not typically use those exemptions for SNAP recipients.
On his Facebook page, Ratcliffe stated that "by implementing commonsense reforms to current work requirement waiver laws, we can help ensure folks aren't becoming dependent on SNAP and help get them back into the workforce."
Democrats have opposed the requirement since its first mention last year, calling it an unnecessary burden on already struggling people. Signers of Tuesday’s letter say the work requirement would save Americans $15 billion dollars over a 10-year period.
A spokesman for Austin-based hunger advocacy group Feeding Texas said Wednesday that the organization sees the work requirement as a time limit on food aid. He also said that about a third of SNAP recipients in the country have some kind of income – something he said that’s true whether or not states use SNAP exemptions.
Note: This story was corrected on Feb 21, 2019 -- the U.S. Agriculture Commissioner is Sonny Perdue, not Sid Miller. Miller is the Texas Agriculture Commissioner.