SNAP in the Crosshairs in Debt Ceiling Deal

Over the Memorial Day weekend, news came out of a prospective agreement reached between President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy to raise the federal government’s borrowing limit before possible default on June 5. The budget deal includes a number of harmful provisions, including expanding work requirements for SNAP.

What exactly would the bill change?
People classified as Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) are limited to only receiving three months of SNAP benefits every three years unless they are working an average of 20 hours per week. These are adults age 18-49 who do not have children in the household and are physically and mentally able to work.

The debt ceiling bill would expand those work requirements to adults age 50-54 over the course of two years. It would also disallow states from carrying over ABAWD exemptions from year to year (which is not current practice in Iowa). The bill would also provide new exemptions from the ABAWD work requirement to homeless individuals, veterans, and young adults exiting the foster care system.

What would be the impact on Iowans?
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 9,000 Iowans would lose access to SNAP due to the new work requirements. By definition, these would be adults age 50-54 without children in the household.

The research is clear: work requirements do not lead people to find meaningful employment, they simply remove people from SNAP who cannot meet them, leaving them worse off. A recent study found that the ABAWD time limit cuts SNAP participation to those subject to it by more than half – with no effects on employment and earnings.

And we have yet to see if SF 494 will be signed into law, further restricting access to SNAP for Iowans. Meanwhile, our emergency food system is hanging on by a thread, continuing to face record numbers of people seeking assistance, with demand continuing to outpace resources.

What can you do?
You can contact your members on Congress and urge them to pass a debt ceiling bill that does not include expanding work requirements for SNAP.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyContact Here

Sen. Joni ErnstContact Here

1st Congressional District – Rep. Marianette Miller-MeeksContact Here

2nd Congressional District – Rep. Ashley HinsonContact Here

3rd Congressional District – Rep. Zach NunnContact Here

4th Congressional District – Rep. Randy FeenstraContact Here