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Work requirements must be part of debt ceiling agreement, says AFA Action’s Dr. Jameson Taylor

Friday, May 26, 2023 @ 10:00 AM

TUPELO, Miss. — AFA Action, the government affairs affiliate of the American Family Association, is urging Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans to demand that welfare-to-work requirements be part of any final debt ceiling agreement. These requirements include stronger work standards for Food Stamps (SNAP), TANF (cash welfare), and Medicaid.

“Work requirements for Food Stamps, Medicaid (which is not Medicare), and TANF cash welfare programs are one of the most effective ways to encourage able-bodied adults to get off of welfare and turn their lives around,” said Dr. Jameson Taylor, director of policy and legislative affairs for AFA Action.

Such reforms have invited bipartisan collaboration in the past. Today, however, work requirements are being waived, gutted and forgotten. In 1996, a bipartisan federal effort transformed welfare by limiting the amount of time people could stay on welfare and by adding work requirements. At the time, as a U.S. Senator, Joe Biden hailed the reforms, saying: “The culture of welfare must be replaced with the culture of work.” Over time, however, the federal government has allowed states to waive work requirements in many programs. The result is that millions of able-bodied adults without children, especially since COVID, have remained on welfare indefinitely.

“Work requirements are good for people,” said Dr. Taylor. “Work is the key to prosperity and is necessary to achieve any personal goal. Welfare programs that encourage dependency, without requiring work, send the message that there is no hope and no expectation for a brighter future. Welfare without work is toxic charity. It is immoral and sets a bad example for kids.”

In April, the U.S. House passed legislation requiring able-bodied adults without children to meet work requirements for Food Stamps (SNAP), Medicaid, and TANF. These include applying existing work requirements to individuals up to age 55. The requirements set the expectation that welfare recipients should work or volunteer for 80 hours a month. They include generous exceptions for students, recovering addicts and others.

According to the House Ways & Means Committee, “Even before COVID, only about 3 million of the roughly 48.5 million able-bodied adults who received Medicaid, TANF, food stamps, public housing, or child care benefits were subject to any work requirement.”

“Businesses are desperate to hire people right now, and there are millions of job openings across America,” concluded Taylor. “Yet many welfare recipients, including the millions of people recently added to the Medicaid rolls, are not working at all. Welfare without work is trapping Americans in a cycle of low expectations. Our broken welfare system is not about helping the working poor — it’s aimed at keeping the poor from working at all.”

AFA Action is a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to advancing biblical, family values in society and government by educating and influencing public policy. The mission of AFA Action is to inform and mobilize individuals to strengthen the biblical foundations of America by persuading individuals with the truth of the Gospel, challenging the lost to repent, promoting societal values that are consistent with Scripture, restraining evil and exposing the works of darkness, motivating people to take a stand on cultural and moral issues, and encouraging Christians to bear witness to the world the love of Jesus Christ. Find AFA Action Alerts here. 

View the media page for AFA here. For more information on American Family Association, visit or follow AFA on Facebook or Twitter @AmericanFamAssc.        

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To interview an AFA or AFA Action spokesperson, contact, Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.  


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