Encouraging work, not cutting funding

Rep. Dusty Johnson

A couple weeks ago, this opinion piece was published on CNN. It’s directed at my bill, the America Works Act. In the piece, the writers make broad, misleading claims about welfare work requirements legislation.
Let’s debunk their claims:
MYTH: The America Works Act “take(s) food from the mouths of babies.”
FACT: My bill does not affect any family or able-bodied adult with children under the age of seven. This bill won’t take benefits away from people who are able-bodied without dependents, as long as they work, go to school or participate in training programs.
MYTH: The America Works Act cuts funding to SNAP.
FACT: My bill doesn’t reduce funding or reallocate any funding. This bill makes no changes to the SNAP budget.
MYTH: The America Works Act hurts needy families.
FACT: The America Works Act doesn’t take aid from needy families. It encourages able-bodied adults who don’t have children under the age of seven in their house to work, go to school, volunteer, or receive training for 20 hours per week. It doesn’t restrict any benefits for families who cannot work, have a disability, or have young children. At seven years old, children are in school full time and eligible to receive free or reduced lunch. I know life is complicated and not all difficult situations will fit into these exemptions. That’s why my bill maintains flexibility for states to exempt an additional 12 percent of their caseloads from the work requirements.
MYTH: The America Works Act creates burdensome work requirements.
FACT: These work requirements currently exist. However, the requirements were paused for the last three years because of COVID-19. In May, they will be enforced again. My bill aligns with these requirements that have been law for decades, but my bill will close the loopholes that states have used to ignore those existing federal work requirements.
MYTH: People on SNAP are doing everything they can to make ends meet.
FACT: My bill is targeted to encourage the approximately 1.36 million people who are able-bodied and don’t have any dependents who reported zero dollars of income. There are 11 million open jobs in America that can be filled by these same 1.36 million people.
MYTH: SNAP funding is already being cut. Now Republicans are cutting it even more.
FACT: SNAP received additional funding throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, understandably, to help families and individuals who were suddenly faced with financial difficulty. But now, we all agree the pandemic is over. SNAP funding levels are reverting to normal, pre-pandemic numbers, not below. This provision was passed last year by a Democrat-controlled Congress and signed into law by President Biden.
During no part of drafting or leading this bill were my colleagues or I trying to take benefits away from people who need it. The America Works Act is an attempt to incentivize those who can work, to work, and to contribute to our society, fill job openings, and better their own lives through work and education.
We want Americans to have better lives. We want people to achieve the American dream—leaving our country a better place than when we grew up and leaving our kids to have a better life than we did—that’s what my bill will help achieve.

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