“YES” on Disapproval of HHS’s Waiver of Welfare Work Requirements

This week, the House will vote on H.J.RES.118, a joint resolution disapproving of an Information Memorandum submitted by Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) relating to a waiver of work requirements established by the Welfare Reform Act of 1996.  The disapproval resolution, offered by Representative Dave Camp (R-MI) as allowed by the Congressional Review Act, would reverse HHS’s Information Memorandum, which gutted a truly successful portion of the 1996 law that drastically reduced abuses in TANF. The Obama Administration’s move to waive the work requirement is both bad policy and illegal.

The 1996 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) requires some able-bodied adults to work or to prepare for work. Congress made clear that Section 407, which contains the work requirements, could not be waived. Heritage’s Andrew Grossman explains that waiving the work requirements is a “violation of the President’s constitutional obligation to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’”

The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector, who helped draft the work requirements in the 1996 law, explains the negative ramifications of the Administration’s imprudent decision to waive the work requirement and how Congress is bypassed in the process:

“Those work requirements were the heart of the reform’s success: Welfare rolls dropped by half and the poverty rate for black children reached its lowest level in history in the years following. “But the Obama administration has jettisoned the law’s work requirements, asserting that, in the future, no state will be required to follow them. In place of the legislated work requirements, the administration has stated, it will unilaterally design its own “work” systems without congressional involvement or consent. Any state will be free to follow the new Obama requirements “in lieu of” the written statute.”

It is abundantly clear, both from a legal perspective and a policy perspective that this new waiver policy outlined in the Information Memorandum must be reversed.

Heritage Action supports H.J.Res.118 and will include it as a key vote on our scorecard.

Related Links:
Heritage Action for America Scorecard
GAO Letter to Senator Hatch and Congressman Camp
Heritage Action:  A New Welfare Czar
Welfare Reform’s Work Requirements Cannot be Waived
Clinton’s Deceptive Defense
Obama Guts Welfare Reform
Clinton Defends Obama on the Gutting of His Welfare Reform Law