Trump plan to slash food stamps for 700,000 unemployed Americans is blocked by judge who slammed ‘capricious’ move
A FEDERAL judge on Sunday struck down a Trump administration rule that would have reduced food stamp benefits for nearly 700,000 people, calling the blocking “arbitrary and capricious.”
In her Sunday hearing, US District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell wrote that implementing the change “radically and abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice," which would increase food insecurity for Americans.
Howell added, “Whether USDA could, using a legally proper process, adequately explain how the Final Rule’s changes both comport with the statutory scheme and make sense is a question for another day. For now, the agency has not done so.”
The ruling comes after a year-long effort from the Trump administration to trim the number of people who rely on food stamps – also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.
The proposal would have disqualified an estimated 688,000 people from food benefits.
When the Trump administration initially proposed its new rules in December for limiting access to the program, the US was enjoying record low unemployment and a strong economy.
Although, since the start of coronavirus pandemic those numbers has since turned upside-down – as almost 25 million adults are currently claiming unemployment benefits and the jobless rate stood at 7.9 percent in September.
Secretary Sonny Perdue said at the time that the changes were made “in order to restore the dignity of work to sizable segment of our population and be respectful of the taxpayers who fund the program.”
In her ruling, Howell said the US Department of Agriculture, which administers SNAP, had remained “icily silent” on how many people would have been impacted by the change “while the pandemic rapidly spread through the country.”
Howell added that enrollment in food stamps had surged by 17 percent or almost 6 million additional recipients through May 2020.
The USDA did not return a request for comment from The Sun.
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