WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — House Democrats continue to criticize new food stamp work requirements, on Tuesday announcing their support for a lawsuit aimed at stopping them.
Opponents argue the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Program will leave thousands hungry, with Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wisc., describing them as “beyond cruel” at a Tuesday press conference.
“I don’t know when it became fashionable to beat up on poor people, but that’s exactly what this is and we’re not going to stand for it,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., added.
He and fellow Democrats threw their weight behind a multistate lawsuit that would block the work requirements. They filed an amicus brief on the case on behalf of the entire U.S. House of Representatives because in 2018, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voted down similar requirements.
“We have lost it all if we refuse to stand for people who have no voice,” Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, said. “How do you take food from veterans who have served this nation? How do you take food from people who are just trying to get by every day?”
The rules enacted under the Republican Trump administration, which go into effect in April as the first of three new SNAP policies, will limit states’ flexibility to allow able-bodied adults without children to keep benefits for more than 90 days.
Jesus Rivera, who helps Indiana farm workers find work and resources, said the change will be devastating for the population she serves.
“If you really want to look at it, it’s going to mean starvation,” Rivera said.
But the USDA says the rules will motivate more people to find work, and UDSA Food Nutrition and Consumer Services Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps told NEXSTAR in December that there will still be a safety net.
“States have the option to exempt 12% of their population. Individuals don’t have to go to work tomorrow. They can get three months of benefits without any requirement and at that point, they just have to begin volunteering,” he said.
Fudge said she hopes the courts step in to keep SNAP as it is.
“Right is going to win and we’re doing what is right,” she said.