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A woman uses an electronic benefits transfer card to buy groceries in Portland, Maine. Photo: Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The Trump administration announced a plan Thursday to use its executive power to tighten the work requirements for the nation's food assistance program, the Washington Post reports.

What's happening: Americans without dependents are required to work if they collect food stamps for three months in a three-year period, but that requirement is scrapped if they live in an area where the unemployment rate is 20% higher than the national average — currently 3.7%. The Trump administration wants to allow the waiver to stand only in areas with an unemployment rate above 7%, which could force hundreds of thousands of Americans out of the program.

Tougher food assistance requirements were part of the House's version of the farm bill, but they were not included in the Senate version, which is expected to cross President Trump's desk today.

  • Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue defended the policy on a call, per the Post, "This is unacceptable to most Americans and belies common sense, particularly when employment opportunities are as plentiful as they currently are. ... This restores the dignity of work to a sizable segment of our population."
  • But congressional Democrats think that the decision oversteps the executive branch's power. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the Senate Agriculture Committee's ranking member, said, "Administrative changes should not be driven by ideology. I do not support unilateral and unjustified changes that would take food away from families."

Go deeper: Trump budget includes proposal to replace food stamps with food packages

Go deeper

Americans are super-sizing their holiday travel

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are rushing back into holiday travel, and many are taking even longer trips now than they did before the pandemic began.

The big picture: After skipping Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings last year, many people are eager to maximize this year's celebrations with friends and family. And flexible remote working arrangements make that easier than ever.

Updated 16 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."