House and Senate Republicans Move to Block HHS Welfare Waivers
(CNSNews.com) – House and Senate Republicans have introduced legislation that would block the Health and Human Services Department from issuing waivers of the work requirements in federal welfare programs.
The legislation, offered by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) would block HHS from issuing the waivers and rescind any that may have already been issued.
“The Administration’s unprecedented efforts to undo welfare reforms that resulted in higher earnings and employment for low-income Americans cannot be allowed to stand,” Camp said in a statement Wednesday.
“This legislation, which I expect the House to consider in the coming days, simply reaffirms what the law already says – that the work requirements at the heart of welfare reform may not be waived.”
Hatch and Camp are the two senior Republicans with jurisdiction over the welfare program. HHS announced July 12 that it would issue waivers to states relieving them of the strict federal work requirements for welfare beneficiaries.
In response to this unprecedented announcement, Hatch and Camp sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, demanding to know what legal basis her department relied upon in claiming it could waive the work requirements, which are contained in federal law.
The two Republicans pointed out that it seemed Sebelius lacked the legal authority to simply waive the requirement that some welfare recipients work in order to continue receiving benefits.
The bill, introduced in both the House and Senate Wednesday, would block Sebelius from issuing any waivers to welfare’s work requirements and would rescind any waivers she might already have granted.
“Neither the Obama Administration nor any Administration should have the power to unilaterally change the law as it sees fit,” Hatch said in a statement Wednesday.
“This legislation restores critical welfare work requirements so Congress can thoroughly and thoughtfully examine the TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the formal name of welfare] program in a way that balances states' concerns, while ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used to get people off welfare and on a path to self-sufficiency,” he added.