Work requirements proposal included in debt ceiling bill

The U.S. House of Representatives on April 26, 2023, voted 219-210 to pass H.R. 2811, the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023, which aims to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling and includes provisions related to work requirements for certain able-bodied adults receiving Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance.

The proposal would require applicable Medicaid and SNAP recipients to complete 80 hours a month of community engagement or work-related activity. Applicable individuals under the proposal generally include adults between the ages of 19 and 55 who are physically able to work, not pregnant, and not serving as a caregiver to a dependent or incapacitated person. The proposal also includes provisions aimed at reducing TANF caseloads by modifying certain reporting and performance measures for the program’s existing work requirements.

In his April 19 remarks on the House floor, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) argued, “Our plan ensures adults without dependents earn a paycheck and learn new skills. By restoring these commonsense measures, we can help more Americans earn a paycheck, learn new skills, reduce childhood poverty and rebuild the workforce.”

Democrats, including House Agriculture Committee ranking member David Scott (D-Ga.), have argued against the work requirements. Scott stated in a press release, “Holding food assistance hostage for those who depend on it—including 15.3 million of our children, 5.8 million of our seniors and 1.2 million of our veterans—in exchange for increasing the debt limit is a nonstarter.” President Joe Biden (D) stated that he would veto the legislation if it reached his desk.

Additional reading:

Legislation related to work requirements for public assistance programs

Court cases related to work requirements for public assistance programs