Today, the House Ways & Means Committee approved the Preserving Work Requirements for Welfare Programs Act (H.R. 890), legislation preventing the Obama administration from gutting the work requirements integral to the success of the bipartisan welfare reform law passed by a Republican House and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996.
Last year, the Obama administration issued a “guidance” allowing states to unilaterally waive work requirements for welfare recipients – a move that not only exceeds his authority under the law, but also threatens the program’s ability to expand opportunity and help lift Americans out of poverty. As Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) noted in his opening remarks today:
“Those reforms led to more work, more earnings, less welfare dependence, and less poverty among low-income Americans.
“For example, employment of single mothers increased by 15 percent from 1996 to 2000, and it remains higher today than in 1996, even after two recessions. At the same time, welfare caseloads have declined by a remarkable 57 percent.”
“Welfare reform helped end dependency, reduce poverty, and strengthen the income security of millions of families,” says Education & the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “President Obama’s waiver scheme will undo this bipartisan success by striking at the heart of the law’s work requirement, hurting families and taxpayers in the process.”
As Speaker Boehner said last year, “By attempting to increase government dependence rather than expand economic opportunity, President Obama is conceding that his policies have failed.” Instead of undermining a policy that has been proven successful and is supported by a vast majority of the American people, the president ought to work with Congress to enact an agenda that promotes stronger economic growth and private-sector job creation. He can start by approving projects like the Keystone pipeline, and supporting efforts by House Republicans to cut spending, balance the budget over the next 10 years and reform the tax code to lower rates and help the economy create jobs.