In a sign that he did push House Agriculture Committee Republicans into including work requirements in the nutrition title of the House farm bill, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Thursday that “workforce development” will be the Republicans’ “next big push, which is the final installment of Our Better Way agenda.”
In an interview with Hugh Hewitt, a conservative talk radio host, Ryan said he wants to “close the skills gap, close the opportunity gap, get people from welfare to work.”
According to a transcript of the interview, Ryan continued, “Workforce, the farm bill, people think it’s like farm programs. 80% of the farm bill is food stamps.”
“And right now, you have a system in America where people who are able-bodied who are not working, who are not looking for work, who aren’t in school, who should be, you know, working are, have been on food stamps for a long, long time.
“What we believe will help get people from welfare to work is to have a work requirement. So yesterday, the Agriculture Committee pushed through their committee a bill that says if you’re a work-capable adult, you don’t have little kids, you’re able-bodied, you’ve got to work at least 20 hours a week if you’re going to get these benefits and/or go to school and you’re guaranteed to get some job training programs.
“So it invests the savings you get from a work requirement into making sure you can give people that transition training they need to get the skills they need to get the careers they want,” Ryan said.
Ryan said he is intent on “finishing the agenda we ran on in ’16.”
“We’ve done the rebuild of the military. We’ve done the tax reform. We’ve done enormous amounts of regulatory relief. We’ve done a lot of our poverty work with enterprise zones and the rest. So finish the job on regulatory relief and go work on workforce development, getting people off of welfare, into the workforce, in a good career, vocational or technical education, and let the states be flexible and experiment.”
House Agriculture Nutrition Subcommittee ranking member Jim McGovern, D-Mass., has said repeatedly that food stamps — formally the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — is primarily an anti-hunger program intended for people who need food.
All Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee voted against the bill.
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