Changes to food aid in debt bill would raise federal spending 

A Republican effort to expand work requirements for federal food aid in debt legislation moving through Congress would increase federal spending by $2.1 billion over 10 years, the Associated Press reports.

Current law requires most able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents to work or attend training programs for at least 80 hours a month if they want to receive more than three months of SNAP benefits within a three-year period. The bill phases in higher age limits for those work requirements, bringing the maximum age to 54 by 2025, but the provision is slated to expire five years later.

The new work rules on their own would reduce SNAP spending by $6.5 billion over 10 years, but the exemptions added by Democrats for veterans, homeless people, and others would cost $6.8 billion over the same period. The agency said the bill would cost another $1.2 billion because the changes would overlap somewhat as they were phased in.

Under the bill, veterans, homeless people, and young people aging out of foster care would be exempt from the requirements to find work or training after three months. Like the new requirements raising the age limits, those added benefits would also expire in 2030.

A provision of the bill would limit how states can exempt people from the work requirements, reducing the number of discretionary exemptions that can be handed out to people who would otherwise be subject to the rules.

The bill also requires the Agriculture Department to be more transparent in releasing data about how states waive work requirements and publish that information.

The agreement would also make changes to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, which gives cash aid to families with children.