Judge Blocks Trump Administration’s Plan to Cut Food Stamps for Thousands of Americans

FILE PHOTO: A worker places packaged food onto a counter inside of a food distribution center on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, U.S. January 25, 2019. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo

A federal judge has vacated the Trump administration’s rule that would have forced hundreds of thousands of Americans off food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rule change was capricious and arbitrary, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said.

The USDA rule “radically and abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice,” Howell said in her ruling, adding that it would have “exponentially” increased food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans and imposed significant costs on states.

The rule was originally set to take effect April 1, but Howell blocked it with a preliminary injunction in March, responding to requests from 19 states, the District of Columbia, the City of New York and other plaintiffs.

The rule change would have put new requirements on able-bodied adults without children, saying they should work at least 20 hours each week if they want to keep getting SNAP benefits beyond a three-month limit.

“It would also have limited states’ usual ability to waive those requirements depending on economic conditions,” as NPR’s Maria Godoy reported in March.

A week after Howell’s preliminary ruling, Congress suspended food benefit time limits on recipients who are classified as “able-bodied adults without dependents” – or ABAWDs — until after the U.S. public health emergency due to COVID-19 is over.

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SOURCE: NPR, Bill Chappell