Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Anne Lee compares the prices of various canned goods at ALDI in Binghamton, NY on December 5, 2019. Anne Lee, one of many farmers across America struggling to feed their own families, is $200,000 in debt and working several jobs to keep food on the table amidst bad markets, horrible weather and the ongoing trade war. Applying for food stamps, attending Food Bank distributions, and carefully calculating how to use her $175-per-month grocery allowance, she still manages to keep her growing children fed. (Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Victory for 'Basic Human Decency': Judge Strikes Down Trump Effort to Slash Food Stamps for 700,000 Americans

"There's a lot of competition for Vilest Policy Ever, but slashing food stamps during a pandemic that's causing massive unemployment is way, way up there."

Julia Conley

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. late Sunday struck down the Trump administration's proposed changes to the SNAP benefits program, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of people from losing badly-needed federal food assistance.

U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell issued a scathing ruling, denouncing President Donald Trump and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who she said have been "icily silent about how many [adults] would have been denied SNAP benefits had the changes sought ... been in effect while the pandemic rapidly spread across the country."

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who was among more than a dozen state attorneys general who joined the District of Columbia in suing the administration over the changes, called Howell's ruling "a major victory for common sense and basic human decency in our nation."

The USDA proposed the changes months before the coronavirus pandemic began. They were initially set to go into effect in April, but Howell issued an injunction in March, as the president declared a state of emergency, ordering the administration to delay the changes. Perdue later appealed Howell's order, potentially allowing the new rules to go into effect despite a pandemic that has left millions unemployed.

Under existing SNAP benefits rules, states are able to waive work requirements for SNAP benefits for areas with unemployment rates as low as 2.5%. Perdue and Trump moved to tighten the criteria for waiving the requirements by raising the minimum rate to 6%.

The change could have left nearly 700,000 people without the benefit, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

Tamar Haspel, a Post food policy columnist, tweeted that the proposal, and the administration's attempt to ensure it could go into effect during the public health and economic crisis, was in the running for Trump's "Vilest Policy Ever."

The pandemic, Howell said in her ruling, exposed how unworkable the administration's proposed changes were, with the number of Americans relying on SNAP benefits growing by 17%, or six million enrollees, and unemployment rates quadrupling. 

Perdue and Trump displayed an "utter failure to address the issue" of how millions would be affected by new work requirements during the crisis, Howell said, rendering their changes "arbitrary and capricious."

With the ruling handed down two weeks before Nov. 3, the last day Americans can vote in the presidential election, journalist Matt Taibbi wrote that it may serve as a reminder of the president's priorities.

"Trump: yes to Space Force, no to Food Stamps," Taibbi tweeted.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Wholesale Fraud' in Michigan Governor Race Could Disqualify GOP Candidates

"It looks like the Republican clown car may be losing a few occupants."

Jessica Corbett ·


Jayapal Says Corporate-Friendly No Labels Shows 'True Colors' by Undermining Jan. 6 Investigation

"To malign the January 6 Committee as a 'partisan exercise' is a dangerous message for the American public and our democracy—one that deeply undermines the committee's work and denies the truth about the Republican Party."

Brett Wilkins ·


As End of Roe Looms, US Doctors Say 'Abortion Is Essential Healthcare'

"Although ACOG's long-standing abortion policy supported safe, legal, evidence-based abortion care, the current reproductive health crisis calls for revisions which make it unmistakably clear that ACOG trusts doctors and patients," said the group.

Julia Conley ·


Biaggi to Primary 'Selfish Corporate Democrat' Sean Patrick Maloney in NY

The New York state senator says she's running "to protect and defend our democracy, to halt the climate crisis, to grow our supply of affordable housing, and to transform our government and economy to serve us all."

Andrea Germanos ·


'Not About Nostalgia': Poor People's Campaign Marches in Memphis Ahead of DC Gathering

"It's been 54 years since the sanitation worker's march," said Bishop William J. Barber II, "and right here in Memphis they still don't have union rights."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo