Possible Shake-Ups at Departments of HHS and Agriculture

by | Jun 11, 2018

Last Updated November 29, 2022


Long awaited reorganization plans for the federal government could be available later this month by the Office of Management and Budget. Among the biggest proposals within the plans is an effort to expand the Department of Health and Human Services to make them responsible for more public assistance programs—particularly the $70 billion food stamp program—currently under the Agriculture Department.

HHS is currently responsible for Medicare and Medicaid and it runs the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance program. The plan argues that its more efficient for HHS to be responsible for more low-income assistance programs, rather than them being scattered across agencies. Right now, it looks like this:

  • HHS—TANF (traditional welfare), Medicaid (healthcare for the poor), and the Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • Treasury Department—Earned Income Tax Credit program—refundable tax credit through the income tax system
  • Housing and Urban Development—housing assistance programs through vouchers and provides payments to help lower-income individuals afford energy bills and weatherize their home
  • Agriculture Department—Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition programs in schools and communities

As it is now, its tough for those in need to navigate this system that sprawls across multiple departments.

The Heritage Foundation’s own reorganization proposal also suggests programs that fund reduced-priced meals at public schools be shifted to HHS. The Foundation describes HHS as “the primary welfare department of the federal government”.

“The USDA has veered off of its mission by working extensively on issues unrelated to agriculture,” Heritage wrote. “This is mostly due to the nutrition programs. By moving this welfare function to HHS, the USDA will be better able to work on agriculture issues impacting all Americans.”

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney instructed agencies to submit plans to reorganize and reduce the size of the federal workforce. Those plans were supposed to be finalized in September 2017.

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