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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

AOC and Ilhan Omar want to block Biden’s former chief of staff

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are boosting a petition against Joe Biden nominating his former chief of staff to a new role in his administration, calling Bruce Reed a "deficit hawk” and criticizing his past support for Social Security and Medicare cuts.

Why it matters: Progressives are mounting their pressure campaign after the president-elect did not include any of their favored candidates in his first slate of Cabinet nominees, and they are serious about installing some of their allies, blocking anyone who doesn't pass their smell test — and making noise if they are not heard.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Butterball CEO Jay Jandrain talks turkey

Butterball estimates that it sells one out of every three Thanksgiving turkeys, but knows that this year's celebrations will be different than years past.

Axios Re:Cap talks with the turkey giant's CEO Jay Jandrain about what people are buying, what they're asking the "Turkey Talkline" and what the pandemic has meant for his business.

Biden introduces top national security team

President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Tuesday at an event introducing the incoming administration's top national security officials, where he told the story of his stepfather being the only one of 900 children at his school in Poland to survive the Holocaust.

What they're saying: "At the end of the war, he made a break from a death march into the woods in Bavaria. From his hiding place, he heard a deep rumbling sound. It was a tank. But instead of the iron cross, he saw painted on its side a five pointed white star," Blinken said.