Today, the House of Representatives passed H.J.Res. 118, a resolution disapproving of President Obama's regulatory effort to sidestep Congress and weaken the bipartisan welfare reform instituted sixteen years ago. In 1996, Congress passed, and then-President Bill Clinton signed into law, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. The legislation replaced the current welfare system with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant program that tied work requirements to welfare benefits in order to help families become self-sufficient rather than continued dependency on the federal government.
"When welfare reform was passed sixteen years ago, our welfare system was broken," stated Westmoreland. "Initially set up to provide short-term assistance for those who had fallen on hard times, welfare had become a crutch that was trapping families in a cycle of dependency and poverty. In order to put the focus back on finding employment rather than long-term dependency on the federal government, welfare was reformed to include work requirements. This legislation was passed with bipartisan support -- including the support of then-President Bill Clinton. Since then, we have seen marked improvement in our welfare system and millions of Americans have been moved off government dependency and into a job."
Unfortunately, this bipartisan change to welfare that has helped millions was stripped away on July 12th of this year when President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services announced it would alter current law by allowing states to seek a waiver from the work requirements attached to welfare benefits. And it did so without any legal basis. In fact, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) has determined this waiver is a rule and is therefore subject to Congressional approval*.
"I guess we should be used to this president doing whatever he wants whether it's legal or not," stated Westmoreland. "So his complete lack of respect for our laws and the separation of powers established by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution honestly comes as no surprise to me. But with this one move, he's moved us back sixteen years in our effort to help struggling families pull themselves up by their bootstraps and realize the American Dream through hard work and dedication. Maybe his campaign should rethink their "Forward' slogan their so proud of. All I see the president doing is moving us back."
In 1996, individuals received welfare benefits an average of 13 years over their lives. The employment of single mothers increased by 15 percent from 1996-2000, and even after the recent recession is still higher than it was before welfare reform.