Last week Capitol Hill publications were reporting that the Administration will be releasing a plan to re-make the Department of Health and Human Services by moving programs and renaming the Department, possibly restoring the use of the word “welfare.” More significantly they would attempt to move the SNAP program from Agriculture to HHS along with potentially other programs from other departments.

Whether the Administration could make the moves, even the renaming of the Department, would likely require congressional action. The Agriculture Department oversees the majority of nutrition programs including SNAP and the school meals programs and it makes up the largest share of that Department’s budget. Congress would be especially reluctant if it did anything in terms of committee jurisdictions in the House and Senate with both agriculture committees possibly losing their authority in addition to changes in appropriations committee authority.

HHS was renamed in 1979 under President Jimmy Carter when he signed into law the creation of the Education Department converting the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) into its current configuration.

The plan may be unveiled sometime this month spearheaded by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It is consistent with other actions the Administration is taking regarding anti-poverty and income support programs. They are seeking to mandate new work requirements for Medicaid, Housing and SNAP programs and the Department of Housing and Urban development is seeking significant increases in housing subsidies.