22 Attorneys General Fight USDA Rule to Cut SNAP Benefits

The Hill reports, a group of 22 Democratic attorneys general and the city of New York are demanding that the Trump administration immediately suspend a rule that would cut food assistance for 3.1 million people and free lunch from 265,000 children.

In a letter to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) attorney General Karl A. Racine, along with New York Attorney General Letitia James, led a coalition of 22 Attorneys General and the City of New York urging the agency not to finalize a proposed rule that would take Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from millions of low-income Americans.

The lawmakers warn that it is deeply irresponsible to move forward with these changes during a global pandemic and deepening economic crisis in which hundreds of thousands of people are ill and millions have lost jobs.

The rule in question would eliminate a long-standing policy known as “broad-based categorical eligibility” (BBCE) and allows states to make low-income families automatically eligible for SNAP benefits if they have already qualified to receive certain other types of public assistance.

“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 attorneys general wrote in a letter addressed to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, “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.”

Last month, a group of state attorneys general 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, according to The Hill.

The other 20 attorneys general that join Racine and James are from California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, and the Corporation Counsel for the City of New York.

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met, and married an American journalist and moved to D.C from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A in Graphic, Media and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

Photo: (Photo By Sarah Silbiger /CQ Roll Call)

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