Citing the rapidly spreading coronavirus in her decision, D.C. District Court Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell has issued a preliminary injunction blocking a Trump administration rule that would kick as many as 700,000 Americans off of food stamps.
“Especially now, as a global pandemic poses widespread health risks, guaranteeing that government officials at both the federal and state levels have flexibility to address the nutritional needs of residents and ensure their well-being through programs like SNAP, is essential,” Howell wrote in her ruling, according to the Huffington Post, which first reported the injunction.
A coalition of 14 states and two major cities, as well as the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, had sued the Trump administration over its rule to restrict the ability of states to provide food stamps to jobless residents.
Under the new rule “able-bodied” Americans who are not caring for a child younger than 6 years old would be eligible for food stamps only if they’re employed.
“The waivers that the Rule curtails are critical to ensuring access to food for low-income people who live in areas with limited employment opportunities,” read the complaint filed by the 14 states and New York City and Washington, D.C. “If implemented, the Rule will have a drastic impact on Plaintiffs and their residents by depriving between 688,000 and 850,000 vulnerable Americans of much-needed nutritional assistance.”
Legal Aid and some of the state attorneys general tweeted celebrating the ruling Friday evening.
Millions rely on SNAP to eat & this ruling is a huge victory for our entire nation.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) March 14, 2020
Judge Beryl Howell writes that during this global pandemic, “…guaranteeing that government officials at both the federal and state levels have flexibility to address the nutritional needs of residents and ensure their well-being through programs like #SNAP, is essential.”
— AG Karl A. Racine (@AGKarlRacine) March 14, 2020
As of today, 1,875 people in the U.S. had tested positive for the coronavirus. Public health officials have estimated that thousands of people likely have the virus but don’t know it, partly due to the lack of testing.
Under pressure from Democrats and the media, Trump on Friday afternoon declared a national emergency over the coronavirus on Friday, freeing up additional federal resources for state and local governments fighting the disease.