Jul 31 2012
Today, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, asked the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the Obama Administration’s recent “Information Memorandum” that waives welfare reform work requirements for the first time. The work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program are the very core of the 1996 welfare reforms, which contributed to unprecedented increases in employment and earnings along with record decreases in poverty and welfare dependence.
In their letter, Hatch and Camp asked GAO to review whether the HHS Information Memorandum qualifies as a regulation that is subject to review – and potential disapproval – under the Congressional Review Act, setting up potential votes in Congress to repeal the HHS regulation. Hatch and Camp also asked GAO to review whether any prior HHS Secretary asserted the authority to waive work requirements, or whether any States have applied for such waivers of work or other welfare program requirements in the past.
“The Obama Administration’s decision to unilaterally gut welfare reform work requirements without the authority from Congress and without any serious analysis backing up their decision is unprecedented and deserves significant scrutiny,” Hatch said. “Having the analysis of GAO, a non-partisan watch dog, is critical as we work to overturn this power grab.”
"Waiving work requirements for welfare would undermine the very core of the bipartisan reforms signed into law by President Clinton in 1996,” Camp said. “Although this new policy wasn't labeled as a 'rule' by HHS when it was released, this review by the nonpartisan GAO will determine whether Congress can use expedited procedures to block HHS from waiving work requirements. GAO's research will also tell us if HHS has ever claimed such waiver authority before and whether HHS has previously waived any other program requirements at State request. I look forward to GAO's findings on this issue.”
For a copy of the letter, click here.