Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a lawsuit this week to stop the federal government from eliminating food assistance for almost 700,000 Americans.
The lawsuit, headed by a group of 14 attorneys general and New York City, challenges a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule that would limit states’ ability to extend Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits beyond a three-month period for unemployed individuals aged 18 to 49 who are not disabled or raising children.
“This proposed rule is entirely unacceptable and exhibits a blatant disregard for more than 10 percent of SNAP recipients in Michigan,” said Nessel on Thursday. “I am horrified that the federal government feels comfortable not only in depriving adults of the essential assistance needed to put food on their tables, but also denying 58,743 Michigan children from eating lunch at school and consequently impacting their ability to learn.”
The lawsuit argues that the administration’s rule contradicts statutory language and Congress’ intent for the food-stamp program, raises healthcare and homelessness costs while lowering economic activity in the states, amends the law for arbitrary and capricious reasons and violates the federal rule-making process.
The coalition is urging the court to declare the rule unlawful and issue an injunction to prevent it from taking effect.
The law allows a state to acquire a waiver of the time limit for areas where the unemployment rate is above 10%, or if it presents data demonstrating that the area lacks sufficient jobs for these individuals. States also were given a limited number of one-month exemptions for individuals who would otherwise lose benefits under the time limit.
Nessel joins the attorneys general from California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, along with New York City.