Republicans are accusing the Obama administration of unilaterally gutting welfare reform after the Department of Health and Human Services quietly notified states that they may seek a waiver for the program’s strict work requirements.

HHS made the announcement in a policy memo Thursday, news that slipped well below the radar amid a raucous day on the presidential campaign trail. But a few prominent GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill picked up on the change, and accused the administration of overhauling one of the most important bipartisan agreements of the past several decades.

“President Obama just tore up a basic foundation of the welfare contract” Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, D-Ohio, said in a statement. He also called the move a “blatant violation of the law.”

Mitt Romney on Friday spoke up on the change, saying: “President Obama now wants to strip the established work requirements from welfare.” He said “the linkage of work and welfare is essential to prevent welfare from becoming a way of life.”