Trump administration weighing drug testing for food stamps

Trump administration proposal would allow states to require drug testing for some food stamp recipients

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sued in 2015 to be able to give drug tests to adults applying for food stamps

"I think in general, the approach they're taking is right", says Rus Sykes, an expert on food stamps for the American Public Human Services Association.

Internal emails obtained by The Associated Press indicated that Agriculture Department officials in February were awaiting word from the White House about the timing of a possible drug testing announcement.

An administration official told the AP that roughly 5 percent of SNAP participants could be affected by the proposed policy.

If approved, it would not be the first time drug testing was used in a safety net program.

Concannon, the former USDA undersecretary, said the Trump administration "is keen on weakening the programs developed to strengthen the health or fairness or access to programs and imposing populist requirements that aren't evidence based, but often stigmatize people".

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With the United States facing an opioid epidemic, McGovern further raised concerns about what would happen if SNAP recipients failed drug tests under the administration's plan.

For years, conservative lawmakers at both the federal and state levels have been pushing efforts to have welfare recipients drug-tested. In 2014, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law a bill that required drug testing of SNAP applicants under "reasonable suspicion of substance abuse". But the news comes as part of a much broader push to limit federal food assistance more generally. Most who spoke to 3News seem to like the idea. The Trump administration has sought to add work requirements, either through waivers or legislation, for other programs, such as Medicaid and federal housing assistance.

It is unclear when, or if USDA will announce the drug testing policy.

The bill calls for a new SNAP work requirement that mandates adults between 18 and 59 years old to complete 80 hours a month of work or government-approved job training. "It's just a smear to create an impression that will make it more likely that they'll be able to cut the program". The bill effectively ends the waiver. Drug testing for cash welfare, meanwhile, has been in place since Clinton's welfare reform. "Some of our states may have problems with the mandatory nature of the program, but every one of them agrees that increasing those [training] resources - if you're really serious about having a program about work - is really essential". According to the AP, at least 15 states have passed laws that allow them to drug test recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, also known as TANF.

We'll keep updating this story as it progresses.

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