Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-09) issued the following statement after the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its latest report, confirming the Obama Administration circumvented the legislative process to waive work requirements in the 1996 welfare reform law. The 1996 law mandated that able-bodied adults should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving welfare. The bi-partisan welfare reform law was successful, substantially decreasing overall poverty and child poverty. In July, the Obama Administration unilaterally granted itself the authority to let the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) waive or override the work requirements in this law. The GAO report details that HHS previously said unequivocally that no authority exists to waive the work requirements in the 1996 law.
"The degree to which the Obama Administration will ignore the law of the land or circumvent the legislative process, as outlined in our Constitution, is truly frightening. If the President doesn't like a law, he ignores it. If he can't get what he wants through the legislative process, President Obama rules by decree. Waiving the work requirements in the 1996 welfare reform law is the Obama Administration's latest attempt at an end-run around Congress. The work requirements are successful, they are the centerpiece of welfare reform, and the President cannot be allowed to flout the legislative process to undo them."
The GAO analysis found that the Obama Administration's recent decision to grant itself the authority to waive federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) work requirements qualify as a rule. Therefore, it must be submitted to Congress and is subject to review -- and potential disapproval -- under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).
On July 12, 2012, the Obama Administration issued a new directive stating that TANF work requirements could be avoided through a legal device called a "section 1115 waiver authority" under the Social Security law. Section 1115 lets the Department of Health and Human Services waive only parts of the law listed in section 1115 itself. However, the TANF work provisions are not listed in section 1115, and are not able to be waived under the section 1115 waiver authority.
According to the Heritage Foundation, 2.9 million fewer children lived in poverty in America in 2003, after the welfare reform law was implemented, compared to 1995. Welfare caseloads had also been cut in half.