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House, Senate Lawmakers Announce Bill to Reaffirm Congress’ Role in Welfare Policy

June 09, 2015

WASHINGTON — House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Senate Finance Committee member Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced legislation to prevent the Obama administration from bypassing the Congress on welfare reform policy. Late last year, the administration released a far-reaching proposed rule that would overturn a number of bedrock principles of child support enforcement and welfare reform, among them that parents should be financially responsible for their children. The measure would stop the administration from finalizing or implementing any feature of the proposed rule, which would make unprecedented changes to current child support policies and laws.

Chairman Ryan said, “Congress writes the law, not the president. Yet this administration has tried to legislate by fiat on TANF waivers, immigration, Obamacare, and now child-support policy. This bill is simple. It insists that the administration work with—not around—Congress to enact its child-support policy priorities.”

Subcommittee Chairman Boustany said, “This president thinks he can use his pen and phone to make sweeping policy changes without legislation, but it is Congress’ role to determine child support policy, not the administration’s. The president’s rule could potentially let delinquent parents off the hook when we should be focused on structuring these important programs to promote strong families. Our bill prevents the administration from making these policy changes by executive fiat and preserves the integrity of our welfare system.”

Chairman Hatch said, “This legislation is necessary to reaffirm Congress’ role in legislating social welfare policy as the administration has once again overstepped the Constitution and circumvented the critical role of the legislative branch with the issuance of an overreaching proposed rule. Last year the administration issued a proposed rule that, if made final in its current form, would make it easier for non-custodial parents to evade paying child support—a move that could potentially force some American families to go on welfare. Deadbeat parents, not hardworking taxpayers, should be held accountable for their financial responsibilities. Our bill will prevent the administration from going forward with a unilateral approach that bypasses the Congress yet again and undermines this key feature of welfare policy.”

Senator Cornyn said, “While Attorney General of Texas, I fought to hold deadbeat parents responsible for paying the financial support their children deserve, and I am troubled to see President Obama go around Congress to undermine similar effort. This bill will stop the president’s unilateral action and ensure our child support laws protect innocent children and taxpayers, not absentee parents.”

The House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee have jurisdiction over welfare policy.

The text of a recent bicameral letter expressing concerns about the administration’s rule can be found here. Text of H.R. 2688 can be found here.