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House Republicans Introduce Bill to Block Obama Administration’s Controversial Welfare Waiver Scheme

September 11, 2012

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) today introduced H.J.Res. 118, a resolution disapproving of President Obama’s effort to roll back the work requirements critical to the success of the bipartisan welfare reform law enacted in 1996.

“It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that the Obama Administration has refused to withdraw their illegal ‘guidance’ undermining the critical welfare work requirements,” said Chairman Camp.  “This resolution will restore these requirements that have led to more work, higher earnings, less welfare dependence and fewer impoverished Americans.  As the economy continues to struggle under the President’s policies, we must not make things worse by undoing a program that has been essential in moving individuals from welfare to work.”

“The president’s waiver scheme will roll back bipartisan welfare reforms that helped end dependency, reduce poverty, and strengthen income security for countless families,” Chairman Kline stated. “We did not ask for this fight, but we will not stand by while the President runs roughshod over the law and promotes policies that will hurt families and taxpayers.”

Chairman Jordan said, “Strong work requirements for welfare help people get back on their feet. It’s unbelievable that the Obama administration would ignore the clear language of the law in an attempt to weaken these work requirements. The House and Senate need to pass this resolution and force President Obama to explain his history of opposition to effective welfare reform.”

According to a recent survey, more than 80 percent of Americans support welfare reform’s work requirements. These reforms have raised earnings, lowered poverty, and reduced government dependence. However, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in July issued a controversial memorandum to states about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program that will undermine the critical work focus of welfare reform.

The HHS memorandum explains the Obama Administration will grant “waivers” of work requirements for welfare recipients for the first time since the TANF program was created in 1996. This guidance is not in response to any change in TANF law, nor does it follow up on any proposal from the Obama Administration that seeks to make policy changes to TANF through the regular legislative process. Instead, the unprecedented policy announcement by the Obama Administration simply declares – despite specific statutory provisions to the contrary – that states may waive work requirements at the heart of the nation’s successful welfare reform program.

According to a September analysis by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Obama Administration’s decision to waive the welfare work requirements qualifies as a rule and is therefore subject to review – and potential disapproval – under the Congressional Review Act. In an effort to hold the Obama Administration accountable and protect the critical reforms that have lifted millions of Americans out of poverty, House leaders introduced H.J.Res. 118.

H.J.Res. 118:

  • Expresses Congress’s disapproval of the Obama Administration’s regulatory effort that will weaken welfare reform;
  • Prevents the Obama Administration from implementing its plan to waive the work requirements of the 1996 welfare reform law; and
  • Preserves critical reforms that have help lift millions of American families out of poverty.

The text of the resolution is available here. To read a fact sheet on H.J.Res. 118, click here.