A federal judge has just struck down Trump’s Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule that would have been responsible for removing food stamps benefits for hundreds of thousands of households across the nation.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, there has been a 17 percent increase of Americans applying to receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell says the proposed rule change by the USDA “radically and abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice, leaving States scrambling and exponentially increasing food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans.”
This rule change was first introduced in December of last year and was set to go into effect in April of this year but an injunction was placed on the rule so Howell could decide if it should move forward or not.
Back in December of 2019, the Trump administration’s USDA put forth the change that would tighten work requirements and restrict states’ ability to exempt people without dependents from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) work requirements. Currently, under SNAP, adults able to work who have no children must work at least 20 hours a week, or else they will lose their benefits. But states with high unemployment rates—7 percent or higher—can waive this requirement. This new rule change would’ve made it much harder for states to waive the work requirement for able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents.
At that time, Secretary Sonny Perdue said at the time that the changes were made “in order to restore the dignity of work to a sizable segment of our population and be respectful of the taxpayers who fund the program.”
According to Truthout, the rule, the department suggested, would have removed around 700,000 from SNAP, although many have argued those numbers would have likely been higher.
The judge’s tossing out of the USDA rule won’t have an immediate effect, but she noted that the change in food aid would have taken effect one month after the U.S. public emergency is declared to be over, reports NPR.