FILE - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, at a hearing in Washington, DC.

One of the Senate’s leading Democrats seems to be leaving the door open for supporting a work requirement for recipients of federal food assistance.

Requiring able-bodied Americans to either work or train to work in order to get food stamps is up for debate in Washington D.C.

Republicans are siding with the majority public opinion that there should be some sort of work requirement that excludes kids, the elderly and the disabled. If Congress doesn’t add more stringent work requirements, President Donald Trump said that he may veto the farm bill, which includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.

Democrats, like Illinois Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi in Wednesday's hearing on fraud in the SNAP program, have largely been opposed.

“SNAP and its predecessors have served as a critical social safety net and allowed us to bounce back from financial hardship,” the Illinois Democrat said. “I believe firmly that the best anti-poverty job program ever created is a J-O-B job, but I also believe that it is wrong to allow our most vulnerable citizens to go hungry.”

In an interview with website Agri-Pulse, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic Majority Whip, was asked about the possibility for adding a work requirement to SNAP.

“There could be, but let’s do it carefully,” Durbin said. “Over half the people who receive food stamps, or the SNAP program, are already working.”

He went on to say that many people that use SNAP are working long hours and still don’t get paid enough or don’t have access to daycare should they work more hours.

“Just saying ‘let’s put everybody to work’ may sound like a good campaign slogan, but when you get into the real world with real people, it’s much more complicated.”

Durbin’s office was not immediately available to comment.


Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for INN. Lauterbach has managed and produced shows for news/talk radio stations in both Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

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