In 1996, President Clinton signed a landmark welfare reform bill, which put in place requirements that able-bodied individuals work towards a job as a condition of public assistance. It was a bipartisan success. Individuals fulfilled that commitment by seeking employment, job training, education, or other means. The renewed emphasis on work cut the number of welfare recipients in half, decreased poverty levels and significantly improved employment.
These changes also helped to improve people's lives. I've often heard from local residents who have their own stories about how changes in the program were instrumental in helping them obtain skills to succeed. For example, one multi-lingual woman I spoke with used the program to attend computer classes and learn how to type. She quickly found a job as a translator, which allowed her to provide for her family and help others in the community. Her experience was not unique.
That's why it came as a surprise to many when, this July, the current Administration offered states the opportunity to waive certain work requirements. The Administration's decision was made without any input from Congress, and it directly contradicted the goals of the bipartisan 1996 reforms. In response, the House this week passed H.J. Res 118 to reject the waivers and keep these rules in place.
It's unclear if the Senate will follow our lead, but I do hope the Administration takes note of our objections and reconsiders its misguided decision.