Judge Strikes Down Trump Plan to Cut Food Stamps for Up To 700,000 Despite Coronavirus Pandemic

A federal judge on Sunday blocked the Trump administration from implementing a new "arbitrary and capricious" rule that would have cut food stamps for up to 700,000 people, The Washington Post reports.

The Department of Agriculture announced a new rule in 2018 that would have limited states’ ability to waive work requirements for certain food stamp recipients.

Non-disabled working-age adults without children currently have to work at least 80 hours per month to receive food stamps for more than three months in any three-year period. States often waive that requirement, but the USDA sought to limit the waivers only to counties where the unemployment rate is more than 6%.

A coalition of 19 states and Washington DC sued to block the rule, warning it would require drastic cuts and ignored local labor conditions.

Judge blocks rule:

On Sunday, Chief DC District Judge Beryl Howell struck down the rule.

Howell wrote that the rule "at issue in this litigation radically and abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice, leaving States scrambling and exponentially increasing food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans.”

She said the rule was “arbitrary and capricious,” adding that the USDA has been "icily silent about how many [adults] would have been denied SNAP benefits had the changes sought . . . been in effect while the pandemic rapidly spread across the country."

Howell previously blocked rule due to the pandemic:

Howell previously issued a temporary injunction that blocked the rule on the same day that President Donald Trump declared the pandemic a national emergency.

"Especially now, as a global pandemic poses widespread health risks, guaranteeing that government officials at both the federal and state levels have flexibility to address the nutritional needs of residents and ensure their well-being through programs like SNAP, is essential," Howell wrote in March.

New York Attorney General Letitia James hailed Sunday’s ruling as a "win for common sense and basic human decency."

The rule, she added, "would have not only made it harder for thousands to feed their families and risk them going hungry, but would have exacerbated the public health crisis we face and the economic recession we are still in the midst of under President Trump."


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