Federal judge cites pandemic in halting Trump’s food stamp reforms

President Donald Trump is most certainly fuming following a recent decision out of a federal district court.

According to Breitbart, an Obama-appointed judge used the coronavirus pandemic as justification on Friday for blocking a Trump administration policy change that would have made it more difficult for certain Americans to be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Food stamp reform battle

There is currently a legal battle taking place over a new food stamp program reform put forth by the Trump administration, known as the “able-bodied” provision.

The able-bodied provision prohibits individuals who do not have a dependent who is five years old or younger from obtaining food stamps unless they are either employed or are enrolled in a workforce training program, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The policy is designed to help people get back to supporting themselves rather than relying on government handouts.

According to the United States Department of Labor, the policy would take 755,000 off of the food stamp program and would reduce federal spending by $7.9 billion over the next five years.

“We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in December, following the introduction of the policy change. “Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work. This rule lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are currently more job openings than people to fill them.”

Policy provision challenged

But not everyone sees the policy as a good thing.

Accordingly, 14 states, two cities, and the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia came together to bring a lawsuit against the Trump administration challenging the “able-bodied” provision.

“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,” their complaint read, according to The Hill. “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.”

Injunction granted

Now, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the D.C. District, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, has used the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to grant the challengers’ request for a preliminary injunction preventing the provision from going into effect.

“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 declared in her decision, according to HuffPost. This occurred despite the fact that the House on Friday reached an agreement with the White House on a coronavirus relief package that includes additional SNAP funding and suspends the administration’s food stamp work requirements until the crisis abates, according to CNBC.

It is unfortunate that public officials like Howell continue to use the coronavirus panic to further their own ideological positions. It is something that really does need to stop.

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