House Republicans are taking action to address what they perceive as a food stamps loophole in the federal food assistance program through proposed legislation, known as the No Welfare for the Wealthy Act.
No Welfare for the Wealthy Act
The proposed legislation, known as the No Welfare for the Wealthy Act, seeks to establish asset and income thresholds for individuals to qualify for programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as “food stamps.”
House Republicans perceive a food stamps loophole in the federal food assistance program which they claim is costing American taxpayers nearly $7 billion annually.
The main objective of the No Welfare for the Wealthy Act is to eliminate the practice of Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE), which allows individuals with higher wealth levels than federal standards to still receive food assistance, Fox News reported.
BBCE is currently operational in 41 states and Washington, D.C. These states receive federal funding through block grants for their food assistance programs, and they can utilize a portion of these funds to promote the programs through pamphlets and hotlines.
This distribution of information is considered a “benefit,” enabling individuals to bypass federal asset guidelines and enroll in the food stamp program, as explained by Representative Cline, a Republican from Virginia.
Efforts were made by the Trump administration in 2019 to address this issue; however, they were disrupted by the unforeseen emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the Biden administration withdrew the proposed rule.
The timing of this new No Welfare for the Wealthy Act coincides with the anticipated partisan debates surrounding the Farm Bill, which is reviewed every five years and covers various topics, including federal food assistance and conservation initiatives.
Supporters of the No Welfare for the Wealthy Act
Representative Ben Cline is spearheading the No Welfare for the Wealthy Act introduction. In an interview, he emphasized the need to address the issue.
Cline estimates that around five million people are receiving food stamps who shouldn’t qualify for the program due to this loophole. He believes it costs taxpayers billions of dollars and asserts that such a loophole should not exist.
The No Welfare for the Wealthy Act is co-sponsored by Representative Scott Perry, Chair of the House Freedom Caucus from Pennsylvania, Representative Kevin Hern, Chair of the Republican Study Committee from Oklahoma, and Representatives Keith Self of Texas and Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma.
Representative Cline expressed hope for bipartisan support.
Closing this perceived loophole in the food assistance program has become a priority for House Republicans, aiming to ensure that government aid reaches those who truly need it while safeguarding taxpayer resources.
As this No Welfare for the Wealthy Act moves forward, its potential impact on food stamp eligibility and the broader debate surrounding welfare programs will undoubtedly draw attention from both sides of the political spectrum.