AG Ellison applauds end of lawsuit challenging Trump administration's food-assistance cuts; urges Congress to expand the program
Biden Administration agrees to dismiss appeal of decision that Trump SNAP rule was arbitrary, poorly reasoned, and contrary to Congress’s intent
March 25, 2021
March 24, 2021 (SAINT PAUL)– Attorney General Keith Ellison today applauded the dismissal of an appeal of a decision that struck down the Trump Administration’s attempt to revoke eligibility for food assistance for approximately 700,000 Americans, including 8,000 Minnesotans.
In January 2020, Attorney General Ellison joined a multistate lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to challenge 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 struck down the rule in its entirety in October 2020, protecting access to SNAP benefits for Minnesota residents who rely on the program.
The Trump Administration initially appealed that decision, but on Monday, the Biden Administration Department of Agriculture asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to dismiss the appeal, which the Court did today. As a result, Chief Judge Howell’s decision striking down the rule is final, and the cuts will not go into effect.
“It’s hard to believe that anyone would want to make it even harder than it already is for people to afford their lives and even harder for some people to afford to eat, but that’s exactly what the Trump administration was doing,” said Attorney General Ellison. “I’m glad to have joined this lawsuit to protect the people of Minnesota and am glad these terrible cuts are now off the table.”
Ellison urges Congress pass Improving Access to Nutrition Act
Based on the expertise developed defending SNAP from the Trump Administration’s attempted cuts, last Friday, March 19, Attorney General Ellison joined a letter to Congress, signed by 17 states, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York, in support of the Improving Access to Nutrition Act. If enacted, the bill would lift limitations on the time period during which able-bodied adults without dependents can access benefits.
In the latter, Attorney General Ellison and the other signers argue that those limitations have proven ineffective in encouraging employment and serve only to prevent those who cannot find work from accessing essential nutrition. The coalition further notes that the process for seeking waivers and exemptions from the time period due to lack of jobs in an area creates significant administrative burdens on states, and that the data needed to show a lack of jobs is not always available. Finally, the letter notes that passage of the Improving Access to Nutrition Act would prevent future administrations from cruel attempts to cut off nutritional assistance.