Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. struck down a Trump administration rule Sunday that would have required more food stamp recipients to work in order to receive benefits, noting the rule would increase “food insecurity” amidst the pandemic.
Trump introduced a rule in December that proposed to limit states’ ability to waive existing work mandates. Under the rule, states would be limited in waiving off the work requirements for people living in areas of high unemployment. The rule was scheduled to take effect in April, but Howell blocked it in mid-March and Congress suspended the mandates as part of the coronavirus relief package that same month, per CNN.
Previously, states could waive the work requirement for areas where unemployment was at least 10%, per the same report. (RELATED: New Unemployment Claims Increase To 898,000, Higher Than Expected)
“This agency has been icily silent about how many able-bodied adults without dependents would have been denied SNAP benefits had the changes sought in the Final Rule been in effect while the pandemic rapidly spread across the country and congressional action had not intervened to suspend any limits on receipt of those benefits,” Howell wrote in a 67-page opinion.
Trump’s rule “abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice, leaving States scrambling and exponentially increasing food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans,” Howell continued, noting that some 700,000 able-bodied adults without dependents would have been kicked out of the SNAP program altogether had the rule taken effect.
Since the pandemic, food banks have seen a nearly 40% spike in new clients, with demand more than doubling as unemployment skyrocketed.
About 10% of adults reported to the Census Bureau that they weren’t getting enough food, while 32% reported getting enough, but not of the kinds of foods they needed.