Democratic state attorneys general in 14 states, including Pennsylvania are suing in federal court to block a new Trump administration rule to tighten work requirements for food stamps recipients, according to a published report.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., accuses the administration of, among other things, “arbitrarily [reversing] a decades-old policy” that gave states the ability to seek waivers for work requirements in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as food stamps are formally known.
The suit also names New York City, and Washington D.C. as plaintiffs in the claim against U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Existing federal law, the lawsuit argues, “[recognizes] that states are in the best position to evaluate local economic circumstances and to determine where there are insufficient job opportunities such that work requirements would be ineffective. The new rule eliminates state discretion and criteria regarding local economic conditions for waiving work requirements, resulting in the termination of essential food assistance for benefits recipients who live in areas with insufficient jobs.”
The New York Times reported Thursday that the White House “finalized a rule last month that would raise the bar for states seeking to waive certain work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents and living in economically distressed areas. The Agriculture Department estimated that the rule could push nearly 700,000 people off food stamps.”
Taking to Twitter on Thursday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said up to 90,000 Pennsylvanians could lose their benefits as a result of the administration’s rule.
“We won’t accept this cruel, partisan attack,” Shapiro wrote.
I + 15 AGs have filed suit to stop POTUS from eliminating food assistance for struggling Americans.
90k PA’ns — restaurant workers, day laborers, farmers — from Cambria to Philadelphia, could lose their SNAP benefits. We won’t accept this cruel, partisan attack.
— AG Josh Shapiro (@PAAttorneyGen) January 16, 2020
The suit further claims that the USDA failed “to adequately explain the dramatic policy change or explain the basis for disregarding the evidence-based reasons for its prior policies,” the Times reported, adding that “the Democratic officials said they have standing to file the lawsuit because the final rule will harm their governments by hurting their citizens’ health and ability to pay for housing.”