22 AGs demand USDA reject rule that would cut SNAP benefits

22 AGs demand USDA reject rule that would cut SNAP benefits
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A group of 22 Democratic attorneys general and the city of New York are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to not finalize a proposed rule to tighten eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  

The lawmakers claim that the rule would take away food assistance from 3.1 million people and free lunch from 265,000 children amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The rule in question would change an existing rule that now allows those who have already proven to be eligible for other social programs to skip administrative application processes for SNAP and automatically receive assistance. 

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“Millions of Americans — including more than 8,000 District residents — will go hungry if USDA finalizes this SNAP rule,” Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement. “Protecting access to food stamp benefits is crucial at a time when millions of people are suffering from job losses and hundreds of thousands are battling coronavirus.” 

The attorneys general say that with record-high numbers of unemployment, states will have to expand resources to process new SNAP applications under the proposed requirements "for little obvious benefit."

The coalition also argues that implementing the proposed rule would counter guidance from the Office of Management and Budget directing federal agencies to “prioritize all resources to slow the spread of COVID-19.” 

“The Rule’s human costs would be bad enough, but the Rule also will impose substantial additional administrative burdens on the States in the midst of a pandemic in which the States already are the front-line public health and economic responders,” the attorneys general wrote in a letter addressed to Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog | Ag secretary orders environmental rollbacks for Forest Service | Senate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Ag secretary orders environmental rollbacks for Forest Service Justice Department investigating meat price increases: report MORE.  

A group of state attorneys general last month won a preliminary injunction against USDA over another proposed SNAP rule that expanded work requirements.

As states lose tax revenue during the pandemic, some have called on USDA to tighten SNAP requirements for college students, which USDA denied earlier this month. States have similarly pushed to tighten Medicaid requirements as a way to balance their budgets.