House passes SNAP bill cutting training.

September 20, 2013

Today, the House passed a bill that would cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding by at least $40 billion over ten years—forcing millions of individuals off of the program—and impose significant new restrictions on SNAP Employment & Training (SNAP E&T).

National Skills Coalition (NSC) sent a letter to House members this week urging them to vote against this legislation. In the letter, NSC notes that House leadership suggested that part of the motivation behind this proposal is to ensure that more SNAP recipients work. Unfortunately, is unlikely that the legislation will result in more SNAP recipients obtaining family-supporting employment. In fact, it’s most likely that SNAP recipients would actually lose access to the kinds of education and training that will help them succeed in the labor market if the proposal were enacted.

The bill would allow states to cut off SNAP benefits for most adults if they are not working or participating in an employment or training program for at least 20 hours a week, and creates a perverse financial incentive to take up this option by allowing states to keep half of the federal savings from cutting people off of SNAP.

States that decline to take up this option would face a fiscal penalty, as they would lose all federal matching funds (commonly referred to as “50-50 funds”) for their existing SNAP E&T programs. The proposal offers no funding for job creation, work or workfare programs, or new employment or training programs. States would receive no recognition for actually helping SNAP recipients find and retain employment, but rather would be rewarded solely on the basis of declining SNAP caseloads.

Many SNAP recipients aren’t equipped with the skills to compete in today’s labor market. In 2010, four out of five SNAP households did not include anyone with education beyond high school, while an estimated one-third of these households did not even include a high school graduate. Yet two-thirds of all jobs created in the next decade will require at least some postsecondary education or training. To move SNAP recipients off of the program, they need access to the employment and job training offered by SNAP E&T programs.

Congress has less than two weeks to pass a farm bill before current law expires. The House and Senate will likely now move to conference the House-passed bill with the farm bill the Senate passed earlier this year. The House and the Senate have taken widely different positions on both the farm and SNAP provisions and it is unclear whether—or how—those differences could be reconciled in conference.

National Skills Coalition urges the House and the Senate to work together and help low-skill, low-income individuals prepare for careers in high-demand industries that provide good-paying, family-supporting jobs. They must agree to invest in programs like SNAP E&T that provide SNAP recipients with the skills they need to compete in the labor market, find a family-sustaining job that leads to economic self-sufficiency, and ultimately move off of SNAP.