Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, issued the following statement after House passage of the Preserving Work Requirements for Welfare Programs Act (H.R. 890):
"Last year, the White House threw out nearly two decades of precedent, ignored the law and unilaterally gutted the welfare work requirements that served as the bedrock of the reform enacted by President Clinton and a Republican Congress. As the numbers show, instead of focusing on job creation, the Obama Administration has devoted itself to creating greater dependence on government. That's taking the country backward, not forward, and that's why we are working to restore this bipartisan, common-sense requirement that has proven to be successful."
Since the work-based 1996 welfare reforms were enacted, welfare caseloads declined by 57 percent through 2011. Employment levels among single mothers increased by 15 percent from 1996 through 2000, and even after the recession, it is still higher than before welfare reform. Further, child poverty in female-headed households fell dramatically after welfare reform and is still down by more than 15 percent below the level in the early 1990s.
Despite these positive trends, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a memorandum on July 12, 2012, unilaterally allowing states to seek a waiver from the work requirements central to the success of the 1996 welfare reforms.
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued last September found that HHS exceeded its previously defined authority when it waived the TANF work requirements.
No prior Administration ever claimed to be able to waive welfare work requirements. According to GAO testimony on February 28, 2013, "we did not find any evidence that HHS stated it has authority to issue waivers related to TANF work requirements" before the Obama Administration made its July 2012 announcement.
H.R. 890 would repeal the Obama Administration's waiver plan and prevent it from waiving the work requirements in the future.
According to a Rasmussen survey, more than 80 percent of Americans believe that those who do receive welfare benefits should be required to work.