Support Resolutions to Preserve Work Requirements for Welfare

Dear Members of Congress:

On behalf of the 362,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write in support of joint resolutions introduced by Representatives Camp (R-MI), Kline (R-MN), and Jordan (R-OH) as H.J. Res. 118, and by Senator Hatch (R-UT) as S.J. Res. 50. These important measures would preserve Congress’ prerogative after the Government Accountability Office’s finding that a rule allowing states to waive work requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program should have been submitted first to the procedures of the Congressional Review Act.

H.J. Res. 118 and S.J. Res. 50 will prevent the Administration from circumventing the law by expressing Congress’s disapproval of the regulatory effort to weaken welfare reform, blocking implementation of the plan to waive work requirements to receive aid and preserving the work-for-welfare reforms that have a 16 year track record of success.

The extraordinary action on the part of the Obama Administration in the form of an Executive Order effectively gutted the monumental welfare reforms of 1996, reversing a decade and a half of steady improvement in federal cash assistance procedures to poor Americans. One of the major cornerstones of the 1996 welfare reforms enacted under President Clinton were stricter “workfare” guidelines that encouraged TANF recipients to be more self-reliant, expedited the return of many to the workforce, and removed counterproductive incentives that discouraged seeking full time employment. Put simply, in exchange for assistance, beneficiaries had to go to work, look for work, take classes, or undergo drug and alcohol counseling.

This work-for-welfare reform has had remarkable and lasting outcomes both for welfare recipients and taxpayers. Since 1996, more than three million families have moved off government assistance. Child poverty has declined, there are more single women in the workforce than before, and their incomes have increased. Even in a bad economy, caseloads are down almost 56 percent over the record highs of the mid 1990s. Overall, welfare reform has seen measurable improvements in employment and earnings for low-income Americans. By any definition, these statistics make the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act a resounding success.

It is thus hard to understand why anyone would want to “fix” what isn’t broken. Rather than undermining the bipartisan reforms of 16 years ago, that model should be expanded to other entitlement programs so that aid recipients and taxpayers alike can reap the rewards. NTU is pleased to endorse H.J. Res. 118 and S.J. Res. 50. We urge all Members to co-sponsor them and look forward to working toward their swift passage.


Nan Swift
Federal Affairs Manager