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Trump Administration Sued Over Food Stamp Cuts That Would Affect 700,000

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A grocery store checkout counter with fruits and vegetables placed on the counter.
Nearly 700,000 unemployed adults will lose SNAP benefits under the new rule, set to go into effect in April.
Photo: LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Trump administration hit with a lawsuit over its plan to remove hundreds of thousands of recipients from food stamps

Fourteen states, along with New York City and Washington, D.C., jointly sued the Trump administration on Thursday to block Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program rule changes that would deny food stamps to nearly 700,000 SNAP recipients.

Under current SNAP rules, able-bodied adults without dependents can receive benefits for only three months in a 36-month period, unless they work or participate in a training program for at least 20 hours per week. Historically, states have had flexibility in being able to waive the three-month time limit to ensure that people who are unable to find work in areas with a lack of jobs still have access to food stamps.

But under the new rule, the bar will be much higher in order for states to obtain waivers: a county will have to have a minimum unemployment rate of 6 percent, rather than 2.5 percent, to meet the criteria. (The current national unemployment rate is 3.5 percent.) Explaining the new rule, agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue said last year: “Government can be a powerful force for good, but government dependency has never been the American dream … We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand.”

The lawsuit, which was filed by the states of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and New York — along with NYC and D.C. — against the Department of Agriculture and Perdue, calls the rule changes “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise not in accordance with law.” Per the New York Times:

The lawsuit argues that Congress rejected stricter requirements for waivers in the 2018 farm bill, so imposing them by executive fiat violates the law. Further, the administration violated the statutory rule-making process by adding elements to the final rule that were not in the proposed rule and by not sufficiently addressing more than 140,000 public comments on the rule, which were overwhelmingly negative, the state attorneys general say.

“Taking food off the table from Americans who are already struggling to make ends meet is both cruel and ineffective,” said Eric Angel, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, which also filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday to stop implementation of the rule changes. “SNAP benefits are an essential part of the safety net for a large number of people who critically need them.”

And in other news…

  • Instacart delivery workers are calling for a national boycott to raise the app’s default tip back to 10 percent. [The Takeout]
  • No one really says “Netflix and chill” anymore, except for, apparently, Ben & Jerry’s, which just announced a new ice cream flavor named after the euphemistic phrase. [Fast Company]
  • Binge drinkers in the U.S. are consuming even more alcohol per drinking session, according to a new study by the CDC. [CNN]
  • One of the (several) people who went viral over the summer for licking ice cream in grocery stores has pleaded guilty to criminal mischief. [News4SA]
  • In light of New York City’s foie gras ban, which goes into effect in 2022, a rural county that includes farmers, immigrant laborers, and local businesses are bracing for impact. [NYT]

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