WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is considering a plan that would allow states to require drug testing for some food stamp recipients.
If adopted, the plan would give a win to conservatives seeking to cut the safety net program.
An administration official briefed on the plan says it would be narrowly targeted, applying mostly to people who are able-bodied, without dependents and seeking some specialized jobs. The official says roughly 5 percent of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could be affected.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Trump signs executive order pushing work requirements for the poor
President Donald Trump is now setting his sights on overhauling the nation's safety net programs.
Trump signed an executive order Monday directing federal agencies to promote employment for those on public assistance.
The president called for enforcing work requirements that are already in the law and reviewing all waivers and exemptions to such mandates. Also, the executive order asked agencies to consider adding work requirements to government aid programs that lack them.
"The federal government should do everything within its authority to empower individuals by providing opportunities for work, including by investing in federal programs that are effective at moving people into the workforce and out of poverty," the order read.
The agencies have 90 days to submit a list of recommended policy and regulatory changes.
The move is the latest step in the administration's effort to require low-income Americans to work for their federal benefits. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services earlier this year began allowing states to mandate that certain Medicaid enrollees must work for the first time in the program's history, while the Department of Housing and Urban Development is looking into the issue for those in subsidized housing.
The Department of Agriculture also wants to strengthen the work requirements in the food stamp program. Currently, adults without minor children can only receive benefits for three months out of every 36-month period unless they are working or participating in training programs 20 hours a week. However, states can waive that requirement for areas where unemployment is at least 10% or there is an insufficient number of jobs, as defined by the Department of Labor.
Several states, particularly those with Republican leaders, have also been adding work mandates. Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas have already received approval to require certain Medicaid recipients to participate in community engagement programs, including working, volunteering or job training, while several other states have applications pending before CMS. West Virginia and Wisconsin recently tightened the work requirement provisions in their food stamp programs.