WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers are scrambling to finish the 2018 Farm Bill before the end of the month, when the current bill expires.
- Farm bill approved by congress every 4-5 years
- Covers programs from crop subsidies to nutrition assistance to trade to environment
- House Republicans want stricter work requirements for SNAP, which won't pass the Senate
- RELATED: USDA Guide to the 2018 Farm Bill
House Republicans want stricter work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps). However, the idea appears to be a tough sell in the Senate.
“They need to come to a compromise on these very vast differences that they have," said Kelly Quintero with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
The House version of the bill would require able-bodied adults to work at least 20 hours a week or to get job training to qualify for SNAP. The Senate version does not make any changes to the SNAP program.
Quintero worries the potential changes could prevent her organization from helping families in need.
“Every meal that we put out into the community from Second Harvest, SNAP provides 12," Quintero explained. "We did some rough math and it would be about 11 million meals that would disappear every single year."
Supporters of the work requirement say it will help refocus the SNAP program into one that helps those who cannot help themselves, encouraging recipients to be more independent and get back to work.
“Households would increase their earnings through work and their income would rise, and their poverty status would go down. They would be better off," said Robert Doar with the American Enterprise Institute.
Doar is a former commissioner of the New York City Human Resources Administration. He helped run SNAP and other safety-net programs in New York City for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“I believe in the program, it’s an important program, but it works best when it supplements work. It’s not enough all by itself," Doar said. "For us not to be paying attention to households where there are no earnings and people could work is, I think, letting them down.”
President Trump continues to urge lawmakers to leave the work requirement in the final legislation, but time is running out before the Sept. 30 deadline. If lawmakers aren't able to strike a deal in time, Congress could pass a short-term extension.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates 1.2 million people could be stripped of aid under the House’s plan. It also found it could save the government $20 billion in 10 years.