A federal judge in Washington, D.C., moved Sunday to end the Trump administration's changes to the federal food stamps program that would have likely ended the benefits for tens of thousands of Americans.
In a ruling reported by The Washington Post, U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell wrote that the Department of Agriculture had not adequately addressed how its decision to remove the ability of cities to waive work requirements for the program in economically distressed areas would affect states around the country.
The administration's rule ending that discretionary power "abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice, leaving States scrambling and exponentially increasing food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans," wrote Howell, according to the Post.
Howell went on to point to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed almost 220,000 Americans and left millions jobless, as the kind of situation that demonstrated the pitfalls of removing crucial benefits for so many.
Trump administration officials have "been icily silent about how many [adults] would have been denied SNAP benefits had the changes sought ... been in effect while the pandemic rapidly spread across the country," Howell wrote.
More than a dozen states as well as Washington, D.C., sued the Trump administration in January to stop the changes, arguing at the time that the Agriculture Department's new rule would have "a drastic impact on [localities] and their residents by depriving between 688,000 and 850,000 vulnerable Americans of much-needed nutritional assistance."
Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueSonny PerdueOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court rules that pipeline can seize land from New Jersey | Study: EPA underestimated methane emissions from oil and gas development | Kevin McCarthy sets up task forces on climate, other issues The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Georgia election day is finally here; Trump hopes Pence 'comes through for us' to overturn results Civil war between MAGA, GOP establishment could hand Dems total control MORE, when announcing the rule last year, called it an attempt to move the food stamp program toward one that encouraged Americans to seek self-sufficiency.