Trump administration officials said Tuesday that the Agriculture Department will be able to pay out food stamp benefits for the entire month of February — tamping down fears that the partial government shutdown could have resulted in rationing or halting of benefits.

The assurance that the food stamp program, which serves nearly 39 million people, would be on secure financial footing for February marked another major reversal from the administration in the ongoing shutdown fight.

Just a few days ago, White House officials had said funds for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program were likely to run out in February if Congress didn’t act, an outcome that would have led to a sharp cut in benefits for millions of low-income Americans who rely on the program to help them pay for groceries each month. Democrats had seized on the White House’s threat as both sides tried to increase their political leverage as the shutdown, now in its 18th day, entered its third week.

The move follows a similar walkback on a White House threat last week that millions of Americans would not receive tax refunds as scheduled. Senior administration officials on Monday reversed course and said the refunds would be processed during the shutdown.

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