White House plans to reconfigure HHS, rename it 'Department of Health and Public Welfare'

The Trump administration unveiled plans for a massive restructuring of the federal government on Thursday, June 21, including a move that would move the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), known as food stamps, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to HHS, which would then be rebranded as the Department of Health and Public Welfare.

“This effort, along with the recent executive orders on federal unions, are the biggest pieces so far of our plan to drain the swamp,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney in a statement. “The federal government is bloated, opaque, bureaucratic and inefficient.”

The plan includes huge initiatives, such as privatizing the postal service and merging the Departments of Labor and Education. In addition to HHS’s renaming, it calls for food safety functions to be consolidated into a single agency within USDA. Currently, the FDA handles some of this oversight.

A newly formed Council on Public Assistance would manage SNAP and Medicaid, with the power to impose work requirements to receive these benefits.

Prospects for such an overhaul to pass through Congress appear to be slim. Sen. Pat Murray, D-Washington, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions committee, dismissed the plan immediately.   

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress have rejected President Trump’s proposals to drastically gut investments in education, health care, and workers—and he should expect the same result for this latest attempt to make government work worse for the people it serves,” she said.