State Watch

Cities, states sue over planned Trump cuts to food stamps


A coalition of 14 states and two major cities filed a lawsuit Thursday in an attempt to block the Trump administration from eliminating food stamp benefits for hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans.

The administration’s new rules will restrict the ability of states to provide food stamps to jobless residents. Instead, “able-bodied” Americans who are not caring for a child less than 6 years old will be eligible for food stamps only if they’re employed or enrolled in a vocational training program.

“The waivers that the Rule curtails are critical to ensuring access to food for low-income people who live in areas with limited employment opportunities,” said the complaint filed in federal court by the 14 states and New York City and Washington, D.C. “If implemented, the Rule will have a drastic impact on Plaintiffs and their residents by depriving between 688,000 and 850,000 vulnerable Americans of much-needed nutritional assistance.”

Government estimates have said the proposal could cut benefits for about 750,000 people.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Currently, able-bodied Americans without dependents between the ages of 18 and 49 can receive food stamps for a maximum of three months during a three-year period, unless they are working or enrolled in an education or training program for 80 hours a month.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue last year described the new approach as an effort to restore “the original intent of food stamps … moving more able-bodied Americans to self sufficiency,” The Washington Post reported.
Perdue said that since 2000, the number of Americans receiving food stamp benefits has jumped from 17 million to 36 million, even though the unemployment rate is now lower than it was in 2000.
Under the new rules, a county must have an unemployment rate of at least 6 percent before the state can apply for a waiver.

The policy change, set to take effect April 1, would reportedly trim $5.5 billion from the federal budget over the next two years.

The finalized plan is one of three programs proposed by the Trump administration to limit food stamps. While the other two plans are not yet finalized, when combined, the plans would constrict food stamp benefits for an estimated 3.7 million people.

Tags Agriculture Department Donald Trump Food Stamps Sonny Perdue

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