DCHS Applauds Lawsuit to Stop the Administration from Eliminating SNAP Benefits for More Than 13K District Residents

Media Contact:
Emily Pickren
epickren@frac.org
202-640-1118

WASHINGTON, January 24, 2020 — Attorney General Karl Racine, along with New York State Attorney General Letitia James, is leading a group of 15 attorneys general and New York City in a lawsuit to prevent the Trump Administration from implementing a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rule change that would take food off the tables of at least 13,000 District of Columbia residents and 700,000 people across the nation, many of whom struggle to find sufficient hours of work in areas with few jobs. The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia has also filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Bread for the City and D.C. residents currently receiving SNAP.

The rule is scheduled to be implemented on April 1, 2020. The litigation asks the court to find the rule unlawful and to issue an injunction to prevent it from taking effect.

“D.C. Hunger Solutions applauds the efforts of Attorney General Racine and Legal Aid to prevent USDA from sidestepping Congress, ignoring the great weight of public opinion, and taking food away from people who are struggling to find stable employment,” said Beverley Wheeler, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions. “The final rule would cause serious harm to District residents.”   

The litigation, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that the rule undermines Congressional intent, violates the federal rulemaking process, would impose significant regulatory burdens on states, and would harm states’ residents and economies and result in more food insecurity for those who already are experiencing poverty.  

In 1996 Congress enacted a time limit of three months within a 36-month period on SNAP benefits for so-called able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) who do not document 80 hours of work or other qualifying activities each month.  Congress, however, allowed states to seek waivers of the time limit for those residing in areas with high unemployment or insufficient jobs. Congress maintained the waivers in the 2018 Farm Bill. USDA’s new final rule would eliminate or restrict many of the criteria upon which D.C. uses for their waiver.

Attorney General Racine joins attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York State, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, along with New York City.  The complaint is available at https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2020-01/SNAP-Complaint.pdf

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D.C. Hunger Solutions, an initiative of the Food Research & Action Center, works to end hunger in the nation’s capital and improve the nutrition, health, economic security, and well-being of low-income District residents.