Contact: Ben Battles, Solicitor General, 802-828-3171
Attorney General T.J. Donovan today joined a group of 15 attorneys general and New York City in a lawsuit to stop the Trump Administration from eliminating food assistance for nearly 700,000 Americans, including more than 200 Vermont households. The lawsuit, filed in the District of Columbia, challenges a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule that would limit states’ ability to extend benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known in Vermont as 3SquaresVT, beyond a three-month period for certain adults. The coalition asserts that the rule directly undermines Congress’ intent for the SNAP program, and that the USDA violated the federal rulemaking process by not allowing for a meaningful opportunity to comment on the new rule. Attorney General Donovan and his counterparts are urging the Court to declare the rule unlawful and issue an injunction to prevent it from taking effect on April 1, 2020.
“The Trump Administration’s latest cut to food assistance puts benefits for more than 200 Vermont households at risk,” said Attorney General Donovan. “I will continue to fight to keep food on Vermonters’ tables and benefit-dollars in our local economies.”
SNAP has served as the country’s primary response to hunger since 1977 and is a critical part of federal and state efforts to help lift people out of poverty. In Vermont, 3SquaresVT has for many years kept Vermonters from going hungry. The program provides access to nutrition for Vermonters with limited incomes who would otherwise struggle with food insecurity. While the federal government pays the full cost of benefits, it shares the costs of administering the program on a 50-50 basis with the states, which operate the program.
Currently, there is a three-month time limit on SNAP benefits for unemployed individuals aged 18 to 49 who are not disabled or caring for children, but those limits can be waived based on economic hardships. Under the USDA’s new rule, which is set to take effect on April 1, 2020, Vermont will no longer qualify for economic hardship waivers and more than 200 Vermont households will be put at risk of losing 3SquaresVT benefits.
Attorney General Donovan is joined by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, along with the City of New York.