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Court Decision Protects SNAP for Over 700,000 Unemployed Adults

BREAKING: A federal court for the District of Columbia has issued a ruling against a USDA rule that threatened to take SNAP from over 700,000 unemployed adults.

The rule, issued in December, took away states’ flexibility to waive the three-month time limit on SNAP for unemployed adults without dependents. States use this flexibility in areas of high unemployment, recognizing that we cannot impose a work requirement in areas where there are no jobs to be found. Earlier this year, an injunction that blocked implementation of this rule was issued for the duration of the pandemic, but USDA appealed the injunction. In this summary judgment opinion, the court’s decision calls the rule “arbitrary and capricious,” finding that USDA failed to provide sufficient reason as to why taking food away from unemployed people is a good idea, especially during this pandemic when SNAP caseloads due to rising joblessness has grown by 6 million people.

The growth in the need for SNAP during the pandemic is all the more reason why we need a COVID-19 relief package that boosts SNAP benefits by 15%, restores the lapsed, enhanced unemployment benefits, provides rental and housing assistance, and gives state and local governments added funds to help pay for much needed human services that help mitigate this economic crisis. Yet this week, the Senate will vote again on a much smaller bill, despite not participating in relief negotiations between House leadership and the White House, and instead of considering the more robust package that has already been approved by the House.

USDA may decide to appeal the court’s decision on this rule, taking this case to the Supreme Court, but for now, we have cause to celebrate, and we mean you as well as us! Thank you to all of you who joined our public comments campaign: the more than 100,000 comments opposing this change during the rulemaking process was considered by the court in issuing this decision. Thank you for speaking up to protect SNAP!

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