WASHINGTON – About 47 million Americans received food stamps last year, but only a relative few are required to work or look for a job as a condition of receiving the aid.

Now, House Republicans are considering whether the work requirement should be strengthened as they seek cuts to the $80 billion-a-year program, which has doubled in cost over the last five years.

A small group of Republican lawmakers met Wednesday to discuss trimming the program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. One approach discussed in the meeting was a proposal by Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., that would allow individual states to test work requirements.

The push to pass a food stamp bill came after House Republican leaders stripped the food programs from a farm bill that passed the chamber earlier this month following the defeat of a combined food-farm bill. Conservatives had demanded greater cuts in the food stamp program, and Republican leaders said they would take up the issue separately. But it’s unclear if they will be able to find enough consensus within their caucus to move on the issue quickly — or at all.

After the meeting, House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., indicated that there is a good chance the food stamp debate will be pushed to the fall.


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