House Republicans have introduced legislation to prevent the Obama administration from allowing some states to waive certain provisions of the welfare reform law enacted in 1996.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced in July that it was seeking to provide states with more flexibility to administer the Temporary Assistant for Needy Families (TANF) program. George Sheldon, acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, said the law contained “mind-numbing details about how to run a welfare-to-work program” and offered to waive some of those federal regulations.
The TANF program — which helps poor families with children pay for living expenses such as rent, heat, utilities and personal care items — requires those receiving payments to be employed or looking for work. Nearly four million Americans currently receive TANF payments.
Republicans have falsely claimed that the Obama administration was seeking to roll back the work requirements in the law.
“The president’s waiver scheme will roll back bipartisan welfare reforms that helped end dependency, reduce poverty, and strengthen income security for countless families,” Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said in a statement. “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.”
The waivers, which have been requested by the Republican governors of Utah and Nevada, would only allow states to test pilot programs designed to improve employment outcomes in the welfare program. Pilot programs that do not increase employment will be terminated.
“This resolution is nothing more than a political stunt,” Rep. George Miller (D-CA) said in a statement. “It is based on a widely circulated lie. Nearly every conceivable independent fact-checker has debunked the Republicans’ claims. This resolution wastes precious legislative time when we should be working together to provide solutions for the real problems confronting American families, not fabricated ones.”
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