This year, the House bill was written through a very different process. Past versions have had input from both parties, but this iteration was written independently by the House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX). The Senate version of the bill is still under negotiation through a bipartisan process.
The biggest changes the bill would make are to SNAP. It would make SNAP’s current work requirements—which function as time limits for unemployed and underemployed workers—even harsher. Currently, a non-disabled adult age 18 to 49 who does not have a dependent, and who does not have a job that assigns them at least 20 hours per week, can only receive benefits for three months every three years. The bill would extend these requirements to adults under the age of 60, including those raising a child age 6 or older.
The bill sharply rolls back “categorical eligibility,” which makes families automatically eligible for SNAP and free school meals if they qualify for other programs that indicate they’re facing financial hardship. It also requires states to adopt SNAP’s strict federal asset tests, making families ineligible if they have modest savings or a relatively inexpensive car, rolling back progress in 40 states. And for most families it ends “heat and eat,” which allows families that receive help paying their energy bills to use this assistance as evidence that they face high energy costs and therefore need more nutrition support.
If the bill passes, more than 2 million people—particularly in low-income working families with children—will lose SNAP or face lower benefits.