By Brandon Moseley
On Thursday, Congresswoman Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery helped move forward legislation in committee which would restore the landmark welfare reform package passed by President Bill Clinton (D) and a Newt Gingrich (R) led Congress in 1996. President Obama's Health and Human Services Administration (HHS) has offered waivers to states on the work requirements that were the key to the 1996 bipartisan welfare reform legislation, Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. Congress has never authorized the Administration to offer states any waivers of the work requirement.
Representative Roby said in a written statement, "Today in committee I voted to approve legislation that would stop the Obama Administration's overreach offering waivers for welfare work requirements. I'm disappointed, but not surprised by the Obama Admin's continued attempts to legislate ... via executive orders & bureaucratic regulations." Rep. Roby said, "This time, though, it comes with real-world implications for taxpayers. Welfare reform is one of the most meaningful bipartisan accomplishments of the last 30 years. There's no question this policy has helped millions of Americans pull themselves out of poverty, due in large part to the strict requirements placed on states to ensure welfare recipients are seeking work." Representative Roby concluded, "To wind back work requirements for welfare is a bad idea. To try to circumvent the law with bureaucratic tricks is wrong, and we're putting a stop to it. If President Obama wants to amend welfare reform, he needs to work through the legislative process."
Historically it was understood that Congress wrote law, the Court System interpreted law, and the President administered the laws that were on the books he inherited from the Administrations that went before him. Over the last 80 years Presidents have increased their own powers often at the expense of both the states and the Congress. President Barack Obama has stretched the President's executive powers to unprecedented new levels. His administration has refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act even though it has never been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court or been repealed by an Act of Congress. When a Democratically controlled Congress failed to give President Obama tremendous new powers to regulate green house gases, he ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to write rules giving himself the power. When religious institutions claimed the Constitution allowed them to not pay for abortificants and birth control drugs they have long opposed, the administration defined religious expression so narrowly that most such institutions were stripped of their freedom not to participate even though Congress passed no such act. When Congress failed to pass the Dream Act, the President declared that he had unilateral power to set new policy to halt deportations and provide work permits to undocumented youth. Now the President is claiming the power to waive sections of an act of Congress without enabling legislation giving him that authority.
According to Roby's press release, the legislation could be before the full House as soon as next week. It would then go to the Democrat controlled Senate. If it passed both the House and the Senate, President Obama likely could still veto the measure.
Congresswoman Roby represents Alabama's Second Congressional District.