Farm Bill, Compliant With Project 21’s Blueprint, Gets Second Vote in June

Welfare reform found in the Farm Bill that is considered compliant with Project 21’s “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America” is expected to get another chance in the U.S. House of Representatives in June.

Language in the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018” (HR 2) is written to simplify, refine and standardize a work requirement for eligibility in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, or “food stamps”). It institutes a 20-hour minimum work-participation requirement for able-bodied recipients.

Because the Farm Bill’s welfare work requirement is consistent with the goals of the black leadership network’s Blueprint, it was the first piece of legislation to receive Project 21’s “Blueprint Compliant” designation.

Among the 57 policy suggestions in its Blueprint, Project 21 offers several designed specifically to reduce black unemployment. One of these is welfare reform that includes a work requirement for the SNAP eligibility. This provision was included in the Blueprint, Project 21 members noted, to build upon the success of landmark 1996 welfare reform provisions which dramatically reduced welfare rolls and encouraged employment and training for millions of Americans while doing so. The Farm Bill, it was determined, aligned with the goals of the Blueprint.

Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper noted: “We don’t live in a world of unlimited resources. We absolutely must separate out the greedy from the needy. When those who are able to provide for themselves are not competing for help, the truly needy will find that substantially greater resources remain.”

In a May 18 vote, the Farm Bill was not able to obtain enough votes for passage. While liberal lawmakers opposed the welfare reform aspects of the bill, conservatives allied with the House Freedom Caucus voted against the bill over the issue of immigration reform. But House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, however, said at the time that “[w]e all want to pass a farm bill, myself included.”

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise pledged to revive the Farm Bill: “We’re not done with this. We’re going to continue until we get it done.” Making good on that pledge, a deal has been reached to bring an immigration bill, the “Securing America’s Future Act” (HR 4760), up for a vote and clear the way for a second vote on the Farm Bill.

Majority Whip Scalise recently announced: “We’re looking at moving the farm bill on June 22 and having the Goodlatte-McCaul [immigration] bill come up the third week of June.”

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