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

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 19,193,661 — Total deaths: 716,735 — Total recoveries — 11,611,029Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 4,918,927 — Total deaths: 160,737 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: White House recommends Trump issue executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus — Massachusetts pauses reopening after uptick in coronavirus cases
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

Trump: "We are going a different way" on coronavirus aid

President Trump. Photo: Jim Watsonn/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Friday that his administration is "going a different way" with coronavirus aid after negotiations with congressional Democrats stalled again, suggesting he will use an executive order to address stimulus spending.

What he's saying: "Pelosi and Schumer only interested in Bailout Money for poorly run Democrat cities and states. Nothing to do with China Virus! Want one trillion dollars. No interest. We are going a different way!" Trump tweeted.

Trump's swift, sweeping China offensive

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's rhetoric on China has tended to run hotter than his actions — until now.

Why it matters: Even at the height of Trump's trade war, his administration never hit China as hard, as fast, and on as many fronts as it is right now.