In order to temporarily lift the debt limit, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy may drag down the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for a group of Americans.
McCarthy’s Limit, Save, and Grow Act aims to have discretionary spending at FY 2022 levels to raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion through March 31, 2024.
In the bill, McCarthy wants to expand the additional work requirements for some who receive SNAP benefits but do not have children.
Currently, those who receive federal nutrition age between the ages of 16-59 must match one of the following: looking for work, enrolled in a SNAP employment training program, or making wages that equal 30 hours per week at the federal minimum age. Those aged 18-49 with no dependents need to work for pay, attend a training program or volunteer 80 hours a month. Those who do not meet those requirements and do not have an exemption can only receive SNAP benefits for three months over a three-year period.
McCarthy wants to raise the age window to 55, which would cut up to $120 billion in government spending over the next 10 years. The change would go into effect in 2025.
Those who support older Americans that are in financial need are against the change. An AARP survey revealed 9.5 million SNAP recipients are over the age of 50. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), about a million SNAP recipients are between 50-55. Furthermore, those who fall in that age bracket already face challenges in acquiring new jobs due to how old they are.
CBPP believes McCarthy’s plan would take away some narrow exemptions for adults with no dependents who need the benefits beyond the three-month window.
“Recognizing the harshness of the time limit and its inability to adjust for unexpected or unique circumstances, Congress allowed states to exempt a small percentage (about 12%) of people subject to the time limit,” the analysis read. “States can use these discretionary exemptions in cases when, for example, someone faces a sudden hardship like car trouble or has recently been released from prison or treatment for substance use disorder.”
CBPP also points out a flaw in McCarthy’s plan that calls to repeal funding to increase the workforce of the IRS for tax collections. Canceling that funding could cost the federal government up to $114 billion over the next decade, which cancels out the SNAP savings.
Two recent studies also show that work requirements do not improve employment or earnings. Most of the SNAP recipients already work but are underpaid or are underemployed.
Democrats oppose McCarthy’s plan, and some Republicans also are against the move, but not for what you might think. Some want the change in work requirements to begin in 2024, not 2025, and have threatened a no vote. With the Republican’s slim majority in the House, a few voting no would defeat the measure.