September 25, 2019
ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL OPPOSES FEDERAL RULE THAT WOULD TAKE FOOD ASSISTANCE AWAY FROM MILLIONS OF PEOPLE
Raoul Argues That Proposed Changes to SNAP Would Violate Federal Law; Harm Low-Income Families, Children, Seniors, and the Economy
Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today joined a coalition of 24 attorneys general opposing proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The proposed changes would take basic food assistance away from more than 3 million people, disqualify hundreds of thousands of children from free school meals, and punish working families with modest savings.
Raoul and the coalition filed a comment letter against a proposed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule that would end states’ ability to set rules for SNAP eligibility based on the unique needs of their communities. The letter argues that the proposed rule would violate federal law and harm the states, their residents, their local economies, and public health.
“The SNAP program is the country’s most important anti-hunger program and a crucial component of federal and state efforts to help lift people out of poverty,” Raoul said. “This proposed rule would negatively affect the state’s ability to support vulnerable populations and provide vital services to residents in need.”
Based on federal guidelines, each state designs its own process for how low-income people can apply for SNAP benefits. The states must track whether participants meet the income and asset requirements for the program on a monthly basis. The federal government’s proposed rule would eliminate a long-standing policy known as “broad based categorical eligibility” (BBCE). BBCE allows states to consider local economic factors like high costs of living or costs of childcare when determining eligibility for SNAP. It also lets states adopt less restrictive asset limits so that families, seniors, and people with disabilities can have some savings without losing food aid. BBCE is used by 42 jurisdictions, including Illinois.
This proposed rule is the latest in a series of unlawful attempts by the federal government to cut important safety-net programs. Raoul and the coalition argue the proposed rule harms the states by:
Raoul and the coalition also argue that the proposed rule violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which governs how federal agencies implement rule changes. Among other violations of the APA, the proposed rule fails to provide a legitimate justification for changing longstanding USDA policy, conflicts with the clear intent of Congress, and exceeds USDA’s authority.
Joining Raoul in the comment letter are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.