Washington, D.C. March 13, 2020 – Attorney General Karl A. Racine tonight announced that the Honorable Judge Ellen S. Huvelle of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued an injunction in the District and New York State’s lawsuit to stop the Trump administration from unlawfully cutting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from hundreds of thousands of Americans. In the lawsuit, a 20-state coalition and the City of New York challenged a new U.S. Department of Agriculture rule that would have pushed nearly 700,000 struggling Americans, including 13,000 District residents, out of the SNAP program. The rule was scheduled to go into effect on April 1, 2020. The preliminary injunction will allow states to retain some flexibility in determining when negative economic conditions require extending SNAP benefits for single adults past the program’s three-month limit.
“This is a major victory for our country’s most vulnerable residents who rely on SNAP to eat,” said AG Racine. “The Trump administration’s rule would have forced hundreds of thousands of people who could not find work, including 13,000 District residents, to go hungry. That could have been catastrophic in the midst of our current public health emergency.”
The court’s opinion states in part: “Especially now, as a global pandemic poses widespread health risks, guaranteeing that government officials at both the federal and state levels have flexibility to address the nutritional needs of residents and ensure their well-being through programs like SNAP, is essential.”
The preliminary injunction is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2020-03/Order-Granting-Motion-PI-SNAP-ABAWD-Rule.pdf
The full opinion is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2020-03/Opinion-Enjoining-SNAP-ABAWD-Rule.pdf
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The coalition is co-led by District of Columbia AG Karl A. Racine and New York AG Letitia James and joined by Attorneys General from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, along with the City of New York. Bread for the City and two District residents who were poised to lose access to critical nutrition filed a companion suit.
AG Racine is working to protect low income District residents from federal efforts to gut the social safety net. In addition to today’s court win, AG Racine led a coalition comment opposing USDA’s rule changes regarding ABAWDs, and a 24-state comment protesting against a USDA proposal that would prevent states from setting rules for SNAP eligibility based on the unique needs of their communities. AG Racine also joined a coalition of five Attorneys General in a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s “Public Charge Rule,” which was designed to discourage hardworking eligible immigrants and their families from accessing programs like SNAP.