A bloc of Attorneys General on Thursday filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Trump administration implementing “unlawful changes” to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), claiming it would deny hundreds of thousands of Americans access to federal food assistance.
“We are suing the Trump [Administration’s] USDA for unlawful changes to SNAP that will deny over 700,000 Americans access to basic food assistance,” New York State Attorney General Letitia James tweeted after the suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “Millions of people rely on SNAP to eat & this new rule will have devastating impacts on New Yorkers & people across the country.”
Millions of people rely on SNAP to eat & this new rule will have devastating impacts on New Yorkers & people across the country.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) January 16, 2020
The new rule, finalized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in December and set to go into effect on April 1, aimed to cut approximately $5.5 billion from the federal budget over five years by prohibiting states from waiving the program’s work requirements in areas affected by poverty. As a result, unemployed Americans will only be eligible for food assistance if they’re disabled or caring for a child under the age of six.
The program currently requires adults between the ages of 18-49 to work a minimum of 20 hours a week for three months or more in a 36-month period in order to qualify for food benefits, but also allows states to create waivers those in areas particularly impacted by high unemployment rates.
“The Rule’s geographic restriction contravenes the statutory text that specifies that a waiver is warranted for ‘any group of individuals’ for whom insufficient jobs are available by being both over- and under-inclusive,” the complaint stated. “Specifically, States are essentially prohibited from seeking state-wide waivers where there is a dearth of job opportunities for ABAWDs throughout the State. Conversely, States can also no longer narrowly tailor a waiver request to a smaller area based on the area’s unique conditions that lead to a lack of jobs for [able-bodied adults without dependents].”
The lawsuit also argued that the Trump administration violated the federal rulemaking process by not providing a “meaningful basis for several of the assertions in its proposed rule” and by failing to provide stakeholders with the opportunity to comment on several important aspects of the Rule.
Joining NYC and Washington, D.C. in the complaint were the State of New York, the State of California, the State of Connecticut, the State of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Attorney General Dana Nessel on behalf of the people of Michigan, the State of Minnesota, the State of Nevada, the State of New Jersey, the State of Oregon, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State of Rhode Island, the State of Vermont, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Read the full complaint below:
[image via MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images]