DC, Maryland, Virginia attorneys general join suit against food stamp limitations

Attorneys general in the region have joined a lawsuit filed by 14 states, D.C. and New York City against President Donald Trump’s administration in an effort to protect food stamp benefits for the unemployed.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh joined his counterparts in D.C. and Virginia in filing the suit, which challenges the U.S. Agriculture Department change that will limit each jurisdiction’s ability to extend food stamp benefits beyond a three-month period for some adults.

The suit alleges the administration’s change to the rules of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) puts the burden on states and those roughly 700,000 Americans using assistance.

In announcing the change last year, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said, “This is about restoring the original intent of food stamps . . . moving more able-bodied Americans to self-sufficiency.”

The Agriculture Department estimates the change would save roughly $5.5 billion over five years and cut benefits for roughly 688,000 SNAP recipients. That’s down from its original estimate that 750,000 people would lose benefits.

Calling the change “heartless,” Frosh wrote about his reasoning for joining the suit: “SNAP is the country’s most important anti-hunger program; it lifts people out of poverty and food insecurity. This rule will cause Marylanders to go hungry.”

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine called the changes to the SNAP rule “unlawful,” and said it would not only strip D.C. residents of needed nutrition, but also would drive up the District’s health care costs.

“We are bringing this lawsuit to protect SNAP recipients nationwide and to check an administration that is attempting another end-run around Congress to advance its heartless agenda,” Racine said.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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