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Camp, Hatch Ask GAO to Review Obama Administration’s Decision to Waive Welfare Work Requirements

July 31, 2012

Washington, DC – Today, Dave Camp (R-MI), the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, along with Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, asked the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the Obama Administration’s recent “Information Memorandum” that waives welfare reform work requirements for the first time.  The work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program are the very core of the 1996 welfare reforms, which contributed to unprecedented increases in employment and earnings along with record decreases in poverty and welfare dependence.
In their letter, Camp and Hatch asked GAO to review whether the HHS Information Memorandum qualifies as a regulation that is subject to review – and potential disapproval – under the Congressional Review Act, setting up potential votes in Congress to repeal the HHS regulation.  Camp and Hatch also asked GAO to review whether any prior HHS Secretary asserted the authority to waive work requirements, or whether any States have applied for such waivers of work or other welfare program requirements in the past.
In describing this latest action designed to block Obama Administration efforts to undermine welfare reform work requirements, Chairman Camp said:  “Waiving work requirements for welfare would undermine the very core of the bipartisan reforms signed into law by President Clinton in 1996.  Although this new policy wasn’t labeled as a ‘rule’ by HHS when it was released, this review by the nonpartisan GAO will determine whether Congress can use expedited procedures to block HHS from waiving work requirements.  GAO’s research will also tell us if HHS has ever claimed such waiver authority before and whether HHS has previously waived any other program requirements at State request.  I look forward to GAO’s findings on this issue.”
Senator Orrin Hatch said
: “The Obama Administration’s decision to unilaterally gut welfare reform work requirements without the authority from Congress and without any serious analysis backing up their decision is unprecedented and deserves significant scrutiny.  Having the analysis of GAO, a non-partisan watch dog, is critical as we work to overturn this power grab.”
For a copy of the letter, click here.