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CBO: Obama Administration Waiver of Welfare Work Requirements Means $60 Million Hit to American Taxpayers

February 27, 2013

Today, in a letter in response to a request by Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated that the Obama Administration’s July 2012 “memorandum” that allows States to waive work and activity requirements for welfare recipients would cost Federal taxpayers almost $60 million over the coming decade.  

According to the CBO letter, the Obama Administration’s policy would “lower the potential penalties assessed by the federal government for states’ failure to meet work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.”  This simply adds insult to injury.  If it wasn’t bad enough that the Administration circumvented Congress to waive the successful welfare work requirements, now it is clear that they have done so at the expense of the taxpayer – by letting States evade the financial penalties in current law for failing to engage welfare recipients in work and other productive activities.  


On July 12, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an Information Memorandum in which they announced that the Secretary would begin allowing States to apply for a waiver of the TANF work requirements. No such waivers had previously been granted since the TANF program was created in 1996.

On September 4, 2012, the Government Accountability Office indicated that the HHS waiver memorandum constituted a “rule” under the Congressional Review Act, which requires such agency rules to be submitted to Congress for review and approval before they may take effect. On September 20, 2012, the House of Representatives approved H.J. Res. 118, a resolution disapproving of the HHS waiver memorandum by a 250 to 164 vote. The Senate did not act on this or related legislation before the end of the 112th Congress.

The Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee will hold a hearing on February 28, 2013 on the Obama Administration’s proposal to waive work and activity requirements for welfare recipients.