A federal court struck down a harmful Trump administration rule that would have eliminated Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for 700,000 low-income people.
Under current law, single, childless workers can only receive three months of SNAP benefits over a span of three years, unless they work 20 hours a week. States have the flexibility to waive this time limit when needed. In December 2019, 36 states used these waivers in parts of their state with high unemployment rates. The Trump administration’s proposed rule would prevent states from issuing these waivers, causing people to lose nutrition assistance even as they struggled to find work in the midst of the pandemic and recession.
If fully implemented, it is estimated that at least 700,000 would have lost their SNAP benefits.
This rule was originally finalized in December 2019, despite more than 100,000 public comments in opposition – including one submitted by FCNL. If fully implemented, it is estimated that at least 700,000—disproportionately people of color, people with limited education, and those who live in rural areas—would have lost their SNAP benefits. The actual number, however, could have been much higher due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is difficult to know the true impact, because the Trump administration failed to release updated data after finalizing the rule.
This ruling is a win, preventing people from losing nutrition assistance as they’re struggling to find or keep a job. However, much remains uncertain. We do not know whether the administration plans to appeal, and the decision is just one small step towards getting people the assistance they need in these unprecedented times.
The number of people who are struggling is only increasing. Census Pulse Surveys have shown that an estimated 4 out of 10 children live in a household where there isn’t enough to eat, isn’t caught up on rent, or both. Black and Latino adults were more than twice as likely as white adults to report their household didn’t get enough to eat. We need Congress to do more and pass a robust relief package as soon as possible.