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Cleveland.com: Democrats including Rep. Marcia Fudge back lawsuit to fight food stamp cuts

Cleveland.com: Democrats including Rep. Marcia Fudge back lawsuit to fight food stamp cuts

Sabrina Eaton | Cleveland.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Warrensville Heights Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge this week added her voice to a lawsuit challenging Trump administration cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) anti-hunger benefits for able-bodied adults without dependents.
 
A rule the U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized last month would keep states from exempting members of that group from work requirements to get the benefits, sometimes known as food stamps. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the change to current rules that allow Ohio to lift the work requirement in areas that lack sufficient jobs would move SNAP recipients toward self-sufficiency and into employment.
 
"We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand,” said a statement from Perdue. “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.”
 
SNAP has long limited benefits for able-bodied adults to no more than three months over a three-year period unless they work for at least 20 hours a week, but states could waive that limit in high unemployment areas. The rule scheduled for April implementation would limit waivers to counties with at least 6 percent unemployment.
 
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services estimated last month that roughly 45,000 Ohioans would be affected by the change, and Fudge said it could hit 700,000 people nationally. Fudge accused the Trump administration of attempting to administratively adopt a “far-right” food stamp policy that Congress rejected when it passed the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill.
 
“Republicans, who have long prided themselves on being the party of federalism and states’ rights, have completely exposed themselves as hypocrites by eliminating the rights of states – red and blue alike – to determine what their own citizens need and serve them accordingly,” said a Tuesday statement from Fudge.
 
Her statement also said the change would undercut SNAP’s ability to fight problems like malnutrition, food insecurity, family instability and public health erosion.
 
Fudge, who chairs the House Agriculture subcommittee that oversees food stamps, on Monday joined House Democrats in filing a legal brief to support a lawsuit that 14 Democratic state attorneys general brought to fight the change. The brief says the new rule “specifically constrains the discretion historically reserved for the states with respect to the SNAP work requirements.”
 
“This unlawful action by USDA will cause irreparable harm to those beneficiaries SNAP is intended to support,” the House Democrats’ legal brief says.
 
Last month, Fudge led 100 House Democrats in introducing legislation that would prevent Perdue from implementing the stricter SNAP work requirements.
 
“For our part, the House will fight this hypocritical and political cruelty," said Fudge’s Tuesday statement. "This is the first of three attempts to kick hungry people off SNAP, and we will be there at every turn, waiting to expose the Administration’s shameful actions.”