White House Report Pushes for Work Requirements in SNAP, Medicaid, Housing Assistance
Last week, the White House released a report on Expanding Work Requirements in Non-Cash Welfare Programs. The report, commissioned by an April 2018 Executive Order, calls for an expansion of work requirements in non-cash benefits programs – specifically SNAP, Medicaid, and housing assistance. As heavily debated in the farm bill process earlier this year, work requirements have the effect of serving as an administrative barrier that limits access to benefits, rather than a genuine means of supporting participants in searching for, acquiring, and sustaining employment.
The Executive Order required federal agencies to review all programmatic requirements and submit recommendations to the White House identifying opportunities to strengthen work requirements. NWA advocated against recommending any changes to the structure of WIC, given the program’s time-limited, efficient delivery of services to a targeted population, as well as innovative elements of WIC (like breastfeeding peer counselors) that promote self-sufficiency.
While NWA was pleased that the report does not include recommendations for structural changes to WIC, the report mischaracterizes modern poverty in an effort to bolster its argument for stricter work requirements. The report states that the “War on Poverty is largely over and a success.” While benefits programs like WIC enhance public health and combat poverty, it is vital to recognize that nearly one in five children in the United States live in households below the poverty line and one in six children live in food insecure households. Effective programs like WIC should be promoted and strengthened so that they can serve all families in need, ultimately ensuring that no child lives in an impoverished or food insecure household.
WIC Appropriations Likely to Move Forward in the Senate
The House is preparing to move the next set of FY 2019 appropriations bills, or minibus package, to a floor vote sometime this week. The minibus will include the Department of the Interior and Financial Services and General Government appropriations bills. The Senate is expected to take up the package the week of July 23, and to add on Agriculture and Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development appropriations bills. WIC is funded through the Agriculture appropriations bill. It is unclear whether the House would then vote on the Senate proposal, or proceed with a separate Agriculture appropriations bill at a later date. Read our analyses of the Senate and House Agriculture appropriations bills.