Ag Policy Blog

Republicans Plan Debt Ceiling SNAP Provision

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
The Main Street Caucus, a Republican group chaired by Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., last week sent House Speaker Kevin McCarthy a letter proposing that the debt ceiling measure include provisions to tighten SNAP work requirements. McCarthy spoke about the proposal in a speech Monday to Wall Street bankers. (DTN file photo)

Amid reports that House Republicans plan to include a provision to limit access to benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, condemned the proposal.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., outlined a one-year increase in the debt-ceiling in a speech to the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. McCarthy sought to paint President Joe Biden as unwilling to negotiate as the president has called on Congress to raise the debt ceiling with no strings attached. McCarthy's plan called for freezing domestic spending levels as well as tightening the rules linking food assistance to work requirements.

In his speech, McCarthy said, "Right now, there are more job openings than people looking for jobs, in part because the Biden Administration weakened work requirements. Incentives matter. And the incentives today are out of whack. It's time to get Americans back to work. Don't believe anyone who says our plan hurts America's social safety net. We're a generous nation, and when people fall on tough times, we help them. That will not change. But this is important: assistance programs are supposed to be temporary, not permanent. A hand up, not a hand out. A bridge to independence, not a barrier."

The Department of Labor reports the unemployment rate at 3.5%, and the number of unemployed persons, at 5.8 million. The labor force participation rate is 62.6%, compared to 63.3% in February 2020 -- just prior to the pandemic.

The Main Street Caucus, a Republican group chaired by Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., last week sent McCarthy a letter proposing that the debt ceiling measure "Improve American competitiveness by closing SNAP work requirement loopholes that have been abused by states."

"Work requirements would not apply to pregnant women, parents with young dependents, those with disabilities, or seniors," Johnson said.

Inclusion of the SNAP proposal is controversial even among Republicans, especially in the Senate, and it is unclear whether it would be included in the final bill. The Biden administration continues to say there should be no additions to the debt ceiling increase.

In a news release, Scott said, "Let me be perfectly clear: holding food assistance hostage for those who depend on it, including 15.3 million of our children, 5.8 million of our seniors, and 1.2 million of our veterans, in exchange for increasing the debt limit is a non-starter."

"The ransom note that Speaker McCarthy unveiled in front of a crowd of Wall Street bankers today is dead on arrival," Scott said.

"Putting SNAP benefits at risk for millions of America's children, veterans, and seniors is both un-American and ungodly. Republican attempts to punish low-income families to pay for tax cuts they pushed through under President Trump will not result in self-sufficiency; it will only drastically increase hunger for our American people.

"The radical work requirements Republicans are attempting to insert into the program, on top of our already existing, stringent work requirements, will not spur economic growth.

"The American people must know that we already have stringent work requirements for Americans that can work. By including these radical proposals as a lever in debt limit negotiations, Speaker McCarthy and his extreme Republican colleagues are ensuring their failure.

"I encourage Speaker McCarthy to reconsider his strategy and come back to the American people -- not Wall Street bankers -- with a clean raise of the debt limit that does not burden our children, seniors, and veterans," Scott said.

- Speaker McCarthy's Speech at the New York Stock Exchange…

Report: Biden administration ignored child labor complaints

The Biden administration ignored complaints that immigrant children were working in slaughterhouses and other risky establishments, The New York Times said in a major investigative article published Monday

- The New York Times U.S. Was Warned of Migrant Child Labor, but 'Didn't Want to Hear It'…

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton contributed to this report.

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport


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