Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison joined 15 attorneys general and New York City in filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration over changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.
According to Ellison’s office, the rule changes would eliminate food assistance for 8,000 Minnesotans and 700,000 Americans. The lawsuit, co-led by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine and New York Attorney General Letitia James, challenges a U.S. Department of Agriculture rule change that would limit a state’s ability to extend SNAP benefits beyond a three-month period for certain adults.
When Congress amended SNAP in 1996, it introduced a three-month time limit on benefits for unemployed people ages 18-49 who are not disabled or raising children. The amendment allowed for states to acquire waivers for recipients in areas where the unemployment rate is higher than average. States were also given a limited number of one-month exemptions for people who would otherwise lose benefits under the time limit and were allowed to carry over unused exemptions during economic downturns.
A 2018 USDA rule change imposes restrictions on these time-limit waivers.
“It’s hard to believe that the administration wants to make it even harder than it already is for people to afford their lives and even harder for some people to afford to eat, but time and again they’ve shown us that’s what they’re up to,” Attorney General Ellison said in a press release. “It’s my job to protect the people of Minnesota. When the federal government is out to hurt them, I’ll fight back for them.”
The lawsuit argues that the rule change directly undermines Congress’ intent for the food-stamp program, and accuses the USDA of violating the federal rulemaking process. Ellison and his colleagues also claim that the rule change will “impose significant regulatory burdens on the states.”
The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to declare the rule change unlawful and issue an injunction to prevent it from taking effect on April 1 of this year.
Gov. Tim Walz called the president “a Grinch” in December while discussing the USDA’s attempts to tighten the work requirements for food-stamp recipients. Walz thanked Ellison for joining the lawsuit on Twitter Thursday night.
“We are not One Minnesota when our neighbors are hungry,” he said. “The Trump administration’s cuts to SNAP will increase hunger across the state, especially in Greater Minnesota. Thank you Attorney General Ellison for standing up for Minnesotans today.”
We are not #OneMinnesota when our neighbors are hungry.
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) January 16, 2020
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