U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement recognizing the sixteenth anniversary of the 1996 welfare reform law:
It was sixteen years ago today that President Clinton signed into law historic welfare reform legislation. The bipartisan achievement ended welfare policies that fostered dependency and ushered in a new era of personal responsibility for families in need of assistance. As a result, poverty was reduced as millions of Americans moved off welfare and into a job.
At the center of the law's success was a requirement that all able bodied individuals work or prepare for work in order to receive benefits. President Obama's recent decision to dismantle this successful reform is both unprecedented and contrary to the law. Rather than promote proposals that support job growth and prosperity, the president continues to advance an agenda that doubles down on the failed policies of the past.
I urge the president to embrace the bipartisan spirit of today's anniversary by abandoning this misguided effort and joining Republican efforts to advance commonsense solutions that help put more Americans back to work.
NOTE: President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued guidance that effectively allows states to seek a "waiver" from the work requirements of the 1996 welfare reform law. Nowhere does the law state the HHS Secretary can waive Section 407 of the Social Security Act, which outlines federal work requirements. In response to this executive overreach, Chairman Kline and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) joined House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) in introducing H.R. 6140, the Preserving Work Requirements for Welfare Programs Act. This important legislation will protect the successful work requirements under current law and prohibit any future effort to alter or waive the requirements in the future.