Federal judge strikes down Trump plan to slash food stamps for 700,000 unemployed Americans
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,” Howell wrote, adding that the Agriculture Department “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.” The judge concluded that the department’s “utter failure to address the issue renders the agency action arbitrary and capricious.”
Howell’s ruling granted summary judgment to a coalition of 19 states along with Washington, D.C., and New York City and private groups who sued to stop the new rule, finalized in December, to eliminate states’ discretion to waive work requirements in distressed economic areas.
Howell temporarily enjoined the proposal on March 13, the same day President Trump declared the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency. Congress then waived the requirement for the duration of the emergency as part of economic relief legislation, and the Trump administration suspended its planned April implementation date.
However, the Agriculture Department appealed the judge’s earlier order, and absent court intervention the rule would have taken full effect at the end of the state of emergency. Spokesmen for the department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Attorneys general from D.C., Maryland, Virginia, New York, California and numerous other states alleged that the change — to slash nearly $5.5 billion from food stamp spending over five years — would require “drastic cuts ...
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