A federal judge struck down a Trump rule that could have stripped food stamps from nearly 700,000 people.
The US Department of Agriculture has been "icily silent" about how many Americans would have been denied benefits had the changes been in effect during the pandemic.
"The final rule at issue in this litigation radically and abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice, leaving states scrambling and exponentially increasing food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans," Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the US District Court in Washington, DC, wrote.
A coalition of attorneys general from 19 states, the District of Columbia and the City of New York filed a lawsuit in January, challenging the USDA rule.
The rule, would have required more food stamp recipients to work in order to receive benefits by limiting states' ability to waive existing work mandates. The requirement could have resulted in 688,000 non-disabled, working-age adults without dependents losing their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.
Food stamp enrollment has soared during the outbreak as millions of Americans lost their jobs. States can waive the work requirement for areas where unemployment is at least 10% or there is an insufficient number of jobs, as defined by the Department of Labor.
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