The Trump administration announced a change to a work requirement Thursday that will cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for 688,000 adults.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final rule makes it more difficult for states to waive work requirements. Specifically, states will now have a harder time maintaining benefits for able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents who work less than 20 hours a week. This rule does not apply to children and their parents, those over 50 years old including the elderly, those with a disability or pregnant women.

"We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a press release. "Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work."


Congressional Black Caucus members released a statement in response to the proposed rule change, calling the administration "callous" in the move.

"Unfortunately, the Trump administration fails to understand that people want a hand up, not a handout," the CBC statement released to Blavity read. "There is no dignity in taking food away from the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens. It is immoral, insensitive, and cold-hearted. For all public servants, we have to do the most for those who have the least."

The administration, in defense of its decision to push for the move, pointed to former President Bill Clinton's welfare reform that instituted the current work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents in 1996. 

“First and foremost, it should be about moving people from welfare to work," Clinton was quoted as saying in the release. "It should impose time limits on welfare... [work] gives structure, meaning and dignity to most of our lives.”

According to NPR, provisions in the rule change are slated to take effect April 1, 2020.