States Sue Federal Government Over Impending Food Stamp Losses
WASHINGTON — Fourteen states have joined a lawsuit that seeks to block the Trump administration from reducing food benefits for about 700,000 people nationwide.
The cuts represent a rule change the U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized shortly before Christmas for its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps.
The food stamp program requires able-bodied recipients between 18 years old and 49 years old to work at least 20 hours per week to continue receiving the benefit. States have the discretion to waive the work requirement.
The new rule eliminates most state discretion, meaning able-bodied adults without dependents can receive SNAP benefits for no more than three months during
a three-year period. They can continue receiving the benefits only if they’re working or enrolled in an education or training program for at least 80 hours a month.
States often waived the requirement by arguing the job market was not strong enough to ensure work was available for all SNAP recipients who applied.
The same sentiment was echoed in the lawsuit 14 states, the District of Columbia and New York City filed last week in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“States are in the best position to evaluate local economic circumstances and to determine where there are insufficient job opportunities such that work requirements would be ineffective,” the lawsuit says. Eliminating state discretion will halt “essential food assistance for benefits recipients who live in areas with insufficient jobs.”
The proposed rule restricting state discretion is expected to save taxpayers $5.5 billion over five years, according to the Trump administration.
About 36.4 million individuals and 18.5 million households receive food stamps, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The federal food stamps reforms are derived partly from similar state measures, which started as the recession that began in 2008 eased.
By 2013, when the states started putting restrictions on food stamps, the number of recipients had reached all-time highs.
The Trump administration plans additional restrictions on subsidized nutrition programs.
If all the restrictions take effect, as many as three million people could lose at least some of their food benefits, according to advocates for low-income persons.
Among leaders of opposition to the rule changes are officials from the state and city of New York. About 50,000 food stamp recipients in New York City stand to lose their benefits.
“The federal government’s latest assault on vulnerable individuals is cruel to its core,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “Denying access to vital SNAP benefits would only push hundreds of thousands of already vulnerable Americans into greater economic uncertainty.”
Food stamp losses also would put heavier costs on states to care for homeless persons, according to New York state estimates. In addition, health care costs would rise for food stamp recipients who lose basic nutrition.
New York City officials estimate the rule change would cost their economy more than $100 million.
In Washington, D.C., which joined the lawsuit, about 13,000 residents would lose food stamps.
“A Republican-led Congress rejected these changes on a bipartisan basis in 2018, recognizing they do not encourage work, they just punish vulnerable people struggling to find jobs,” said Wasington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.
The lawsuit says the rule undermines the intent of Congress in approving the SNAP program. It seeks an injunction to block enforcement of the rule.
In The News
WASHINGTON — Two coaches from the Washington Nationals baseball team are adding to the lawsuits spun off from mandates by... Read More
WASHINGTON — Two coaches from the Washington Nationals baseball team are adding to the lawsuits spun off from mandates by the federal government and private employers requiring employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The federal mandate announced by President Joe Biden last fall takes effect next... Read More
PHOENIX — Attorneys General from 23 states signed on to an amicus brief that challenges an Arizona law prohibiting abortions... Read More
PHOENIX — Attorneys General from 23 states signed on to an amicus brief that challenges an Arizona law prohibiting abortions sought because of fetal abnormalities. The coalition contends in their brief that the preservation of women’s reproductive autonomy can and should occur while simultaneously dismissing discriminatory... Read More
NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump sued New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday, resorting to a familiar... Read More
NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump sued New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday, resorting to a familiar but seldom successful strategy as he seeks to end a yearslong civil investigation into his business practices that he alleges is purely political. In the lawsuit, filed... Read More
FAUQUIER COUNTY, Va. — A Virginia judge ruled last week that a hospital has no authority to block a family’s... Read More
FAUQUIER COUNTY, Va. — A Virginia judge ruled last week that a hospital has no authority to block a family’s choice to be treated for COVID-19 with the controversial drug ivermectin. The drug is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19. The... Read More
NEW YORK — New York’s Attorney General Letitia James has subpoenaed former president Donald J. Trump to appear in a... Read More
NEW YORK — New York’s Attorney General Letitia James has subpoenaed former president Donald J. Trump to appear in a deposition next month to answer allegations regarding the Trump organization’s involvement in improperly valuing real estate assets. The request falls on top of a mountainous pile... Read More
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that abortion rights activists can continue their challenge to Texas’ controversial "heartbeat”... Read More
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that abortion rights activists can continue their challenge to Texas’ controversial "heartbeat” abortion law, but only against some of the originally named defendants. To the disappointment of abortion rights advocates, however, the justice declined to reverse a Sept.... Read More