WASHINGTON, January 16, 2020 — Today, a group of 15 attorneys general and New York City filed multi-state litigation to prevent the Trump administration from implementing a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rule change that would take food off the tables of nearly 700,000 people, many of whom struggle to find sufficient hours of work in areas with too few jobs. The rule is scheduled to be implemented on April 1, 2020. The litigation asks the court to find the rule unlawful and to issue an injunction to prevent it from taking effect.
“The Food Research & Action Center applauds the efforts of states and cities to prevent USDA from sidestepping Congress, ignoring the great weight of public opinion, and taking food away from people who are struggling with unemployment and underemployment,” said FRAC Legal Director Ellen Vollinger.
More than 100,000 comments were submitted on the proposed rule, many of which detailed the great harm the rule change would cause.
The litigation, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that the rule undermines Congressional intent, violates the federal rulemaking process, would impose significant regulatory burdens on states, and would harm states’ residents and economies.
In 1996 Congress enacted time limit of three months within a 36-month period on SNAP benefits for so-called able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) who do not document 80 hours of work or other qualifying activities each month. Congress, however, allowed states to seek waivers from the time limit for those residing in areas with high unemployment or insufficient jobs. Congress maintained the waivers in the 2018 Farm Bill. USDA’s final rule would eliminate or restrict many of the criteria upon which states can rely when applying for a waiver of the ABAWD time limit.
Joining the attorneys general from the District of Columbia and New York State on the litigation are attorneys general for from California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, along with New York City. The complaint is available at https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2020-01/SNAP-Complaint.pdf.
For 50 years, the Food Research & Action Center has been the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.