Tester Statement on U.S. Court Decision Striking Down USDA Rule that would Rip Nutrition Assistance from 700,000 Americans

Senator opposed Trump Administration proposal that would deny SNAP benefits to low-income Montanans

Following more than a year of efforts to get the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to drop a proposed rule that would have kicked 700,000 low-income Americans off of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), U.S. Senator Jon Tester released the following statement on a recent U.S. District Court ruling striking down the proposal:

“I’ve said it from the beginning, the Trump Administration’s proposal to drastically cut SNAP benefits for low-income Montanans is cruel and unnecessary. Instead of trying to strip away what little help folks get to keep food on the table, USDA should be working to improve nutrition assistance programs so that no family has to worry about where their next meal is coming from, especially during a pandemic. This ruling is great news for hundreds of thousands of Americans who can rest easier knowing that they have a safety net if they need it.”

On Sunday, U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled against USDA regarding the proposed rule that would make it more difficult for states to provide SNAP benefits to Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs) in areas with high unemployment or low job opportunity. Tester—with the support of the Montana Food Bank Network—has been sounding the alarm on the rule since March of 2019, demanding that USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue reverse course.

The USDA rule would specifically make it more difficult for states to waive working requirements for ABAWDs and also limit a state’s discretion in granting waivers in areas with low job opportunity. The individuals who would no longer receive benefits are usually among the lowest income.

Tester has long been a champion in the fight against hunger in Montana. He recently secured extended SNAP benefits for Montanans during the COVID-19 pandemic, and he slammed a Trump Administration decision last year to rip critical food aid from millions of American families. He also is backing two bipartisan bills that would increase availability for kids to receive meals in the summer through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in rural areas that are consistently underserved.