Trump considers allowing states to drug test food stamp recipients

Darnell Taylor
April 13, 2018

According to the Associated Press, the plan would affect only a sliver of food stamp recipients who were able-bodied, seeking certain specialized jobs, and didn't have dependents. "The cost of drug testing will far exceed the number of people that they will find", he said.

Opponents like Ed Bolen, senior policy analyst at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, told the AP it the proposal teeters the thin line of legality because states technically aren't allowed to use drug tests as a condition of eligibility for the program.

In a February 15 email to USDA officials, Maggie Lyons, chief of staff to an acting official at the Food and Nutrition Service, said, "We need to have a conversation about timing given budget and when the (White House) wants us to release drug testing".

"I'm sure there are cases where it's an unreasonable thing, but I do think it's a just cause", another said. "The idea that they're playing politics with a food and nutrition program, really is a new low".

The congressman offered that food banks and pantries - which already help those receiving SNAP benefits - would likely have to pick up the slack.

Matt Knott, president of Feeding America, said in a statement that increasing requirements for people to access food stamps would be counterproductive. While federal guidelines already make that stipulation to receive benefits, most of the counties in West Virginia had received a waiver that exempts them during times of high unemployment.

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"Instead, we get these nasty soundbites, which do nothing but advance distortions about a group of people who are struggling". Drug testing policies of public assistance applicants in Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, and Utah have all resulted in expensive programs with few people testing positive.

McGovern, who stressed that he views food as a "fundamental right for every single person in this country", said he's committed to fighting the administration's proposal and ensuring Americans have the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty.

"Most employers require drug tests, and you pay your taxes which funds these benefits, so why not make them take drug tests to receive benefits that people paying benefits have to go through?" another resident said.

President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing federal agencies to review federal public assistance programs and strengthen work requirements-which advocates say are are unnecessary, burdensome, and stigmatizing. Similarly, in Wisconsin, Republican Governor Scott Walker attempted to require food stamp recipients to undergo drug testing.

USDA officials noted that SNAP, which is responsible for $70 billion in spending each year, had more than 16 million able-bodied adult participants in 2016. Drug testing for cash welfare, meanwhile, has been in place since Clinton's welfare reform.

The emails obtained by the AP suggest that a plan could be forthcoming.

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