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Trump Administration Getting Closer to Requiring Drug Tests for SNAP Recipients

If implemented, these requirements may affect 2 million people.

by Mayukh Sen
Apr 13 2018, 4:55pm

Photo via Flickr user US Department of Agriculture

The Trump administration’s efforts to stifle access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, may be growing more intense: The administration has been mulling over letting states require drug tests for a fraction of SNAP participants, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

According to internal USDA emails obtained by the Associated Press, USDA officials have been anticipating a formal announcement about such measures from the White House as early as February.

If implemented, these regulations would affect people who meet a very specific set of parameters: those who are "able-bodied, without dependents and applying for some specialized jobs." They're a group known as ABAWDs, who comprise roughly 5 percent of SNAP recipients, according to a USDA spokesperson the AP spoke to who declined to be identified. That's roughly 2 million Americans.

As the New Food Economy notes, this push is an outgrowth of a measure conservative politicians have been trying to implement on the statewide level for years now. One of the more notable examples may be that of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who has, in the past, unsuccessfully sued the USDA for preventing Wisconsin from drug-testing food stamp applicants.

When reached for comment by MUNCHIES via email on Thursday, the USDA was firm in its stance against drug tests for applicants.

“Under federal law, states may not drug test applicants for SNAP eligibility,” a USDA spokesperson wrote MUNCHIES over email on Thursday. “Some states have expressed interest in employing drug tests for a limited amount of recipients who are receiving additional benefits, such as work training. It is USDA’s responsibility to ensure that states are properly administering SNAP programs and we are reviewing guidance on this topic for states expressing interest.”

Though this directive is entirely separate from anything in Thursday’s Farm Bill, it fits with the current administration’s pattern of trying to impose harsher restrictions on those who qualify for SNAP, particularly under the pretense of fostering self-sufficiency.

Boy, can’t wait to read Moby’s thoughts on this!