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Tong hails USDA decision halting attempt to cut food assistance

Connecticut joined with other states to fight the Trump administration decision

HARTFORD, Conn. — Attorney General William Tong hailed the dismissal by the federal court of appeals of an appeal of a decision striking down the Trump administration’s attempt to revoke food assistance for approximately 700,000 Americans. 

“Punishing job-seekers by limiting food assistance in the midst of a global pandemic was cruel and nonsensical, and the Biden/Harris Administration was right to drop this appeal. Now is the time to expand nutrition assistance and eliminate arbitrary bureaucratic barriers to aid,” Tong said in a statement.

Over a year ago, Tong joined a multistate coalition, led by AG Karl A. Racine of the District of Columbia and AG Letitia James of New York, to sue the United States Department of Agriculture challenging a new rule that would have severely limited states’ flexibility to provide food assistance to individuals struggling to find work. 

Siding with the coalition, Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia temporarily halted parts of the rule in March 2020, and in October she struck down the rule in its entirety, protecting access to SNAP benefits for Connecticut residents who rely on the program.

At that time, the DOJ initially appealed that decision. But on Monday, the Department asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to dismiss the appeal. The Court did so on Tuesday.

As a result, Chief Judge Howell’s decision striking down the rule is final, and the cuts will not go into effect.

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. The program provides access to nutrition for millions of Americans with limited incomes who would otherwise struggle with food insecurity.

A copy of the Court’s order dismissing the appeal is available here.

AG Tong joined the coalition led by the District of Columbia and New York. The coalition was also joined by the Attorneys General from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, along with the City of New York.

Several high-profile organizations filed briefs and declarations supporting the coalition’s arguments, including the U.S. House of Representatives, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Food Research and Action Center, and a broad coalition of legal aid and anti-poverty groups. The multistate action was consolidated with an action brought on behalf of private plaintiffs by the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.

 

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