U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, PA-11, said the Obama administration's plan to undermine the 1996 welfare reform law is just another glaring example of the federal government failing to do its job.
"We should focus on welfare fraud and enforce the laws we have so there is sufficient funding for those who truly need the helping hand," Barletta said after voting with the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to block the Obama plan.
The House committee voted 22-16 on Thursday to approve legislation that would prevent President Obama from implementing his plan to waive the work requirements contained in the 16-year-old welfare reform law. The law was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton.
Barletta spoke out against the Obama plan during Thursday's hearing and later likened the president's move to the federal government's failure to enforce illegal immigration laws.
"This is just another example of how the federal government creates a bigger mess by not doing its job," Barletta said. "Just as we wouldn't have such serious problems with illegal immigration if the government enforced immigration laws, we wouldn't have to worry about programs such as welfare if the government ran these programs efficiently."
Barletta said rampant waste and fraud threaten the welfare program and take resources from the men, women and children who genuinely need assistance.
"If the government started to crack down on fraud and waste, we would never have to debate the issue of funding for programs that are critical to so many people," he said. "When President Clinton signed the bipartisan law in 1996, it worked. That single piece of legislation helped welfare recipients such as single mothers and low-income families. The statistics prove that."
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on July 12 issued a rule that allows states to seek a waiver of the work requirements outlined in the 1996 law.
Barletta said this move to bypass Congress is another example of President Obama's executive overreach.
"I think it's important that we remember that we are representatives of the people and that we must stand up for the people," Barletta said. "We can't sit idly by while the president tries to circumvent the law and undo all of the progress the welfare reform law has made."