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Chairman David Scott and Chair Jahana Hayes Issue Statement on USDA ABAWD Ruling

WASHINGTON – House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott and Nutrition Subcommittee Chair Jahana Hayes issued the following statement following USDA’s announcement on a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia action. The Court approved USDA’s move to withdraw its appeal on the previously vacated final rule, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents:

“To have gone down this path during a pandemic was unconscionable, and I want to thank Secretary Vilsack and USDA for righting this wrong from the previous administration. I am committed to working with Secretary Vilsack to eradicate hunger in this country,” said Chairman Scott.

“I applaud USDA for taking action to reverse the Trump Administration’s harsh rule targeting Able Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs),” said Chair Hayes. “Amidst a pandemic in which millions of Americans are struggling to find work, it is especially important to ensure that as many Americans as possible retain eligibility for federal benefits like SNAP. Hunger is not an economic motivator – it is a policy failure. SNAP benefits provide the hand up so many Americans need in times of financial instability. I am pleased USDA has dropped this appeal.”

The rule, first proposed in February 2019, would have limited the ability of individual states to tailor SNAP to fit the needs of their constituents by severely restricting the rules under which Able Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs) could be allowed to receive SNAP benefits.

Under current law, ABAWDs may only receive SNAP for 3 of every 36 months unless they are working or in a work training program. States have the ability to waive these rules under certain economic conditions. Had this rule gone into effect, USDA’s rule would have drastically cut the ability for states to help low income individuals under these difficult circumstances, resulting in as many as 700,000 people being removed from the program.

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