Senator Kennedy pushes for food stamp eligibility changes

Senator Kennedy pushes for food stamp eligibility changes
Some SNAP recipients could face employment changes. (FOX 8)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - Senator John Kennedy is calling on fellow lawmakers to get on board with food stamp work requirements. The House included a change in the requirement in its version of the Farm Bill but, so far, the Senate has not followed suit. 
 
"The Senate bill is silent on that, crickets," said Senator Kennedy. 
 
Senator Kennedy says lawmakers in his chamber are missing a critical piece of the Farm Bill. He says 75-percent of the 860 billion tax payer dollars the bill spends deals with food stamps.

Yet, there's nothing in the senate bill that mirrors the work requirements set forth in the House. That is, all able-bodied adults between 18 and 59 without children under the age of six, must work or do job training 20 hours a week.

"It doesn't do any good in my judgment to be generous with people who need our help without also helping them get out of the circumstance for which we need to be generous," Senator Kennedy explained. 
     
Right now, the work requirements only extend to those 18-49, without children.

"I get food stamps so...I think they need to stick with the rules they got," said New Orleans resident Theodore Cooper. 
     
Folks like Cooper are concerned people who need food stamps won't be able to get them if the work requirements laid out in the House 's version of the bill stay in place. 
    
He's not alone.

"Everyone is different. And I'm sure there could be valid reasons why. What if one of the kids is special needs? What if more than one of the kids is special needs?" said New Orleans local Mark Dashevsky.

"It's not so much the letter of the law, it's the spirit of the law that causes me and I think a lot of other people, grave concerns," said Louisiana Senator Wesley Bishop.

Bishop says the change is not in the best interest of the people he and other lawmakers aim to serve, not only statewide, but nationwide.

"Everyone wants everyone who is able-bodied to go to work. Most people want to go to work," explained Bishop. "So, to somehow imply individuals aren't working and they're not working and receiving benefits, that seems to be problematic.
 
Yet, Kennedy argues, if more people who can work, work, the more money available to those who need it.     
 
"I do not want to take away food stamps from people in need but I do want fewer people to need food stamps," said Senator Kennedy.

President Trump weighed in on the work requirements in a Tweet writing, "When the House and Senate meet on the very important Farm Bill ... hopefully they will be able to leave the WORK REQUIREMENTS FOR FOOD STAMPS PROVISION that the House approved."