September 20,2012

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Julia Lawless, Antonia Ferrier, 202.224.4515

Hatch: Senate Must Act to Reverse Obama Administration Gutting Welfare Work Requirements

Utah Senator Praises House Action, Says Senate Must Follow Suit by Taking Up His Legislation Stopping Administration Rule

WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today praised the House of Representatives for passing H.J. Res 118, a Resolution of Disapproval, reversing the Obama Administration’s unilateral decision to undermine welfare work requirements that are an essential component of the landmark bipartisan welfare reform achieved by President Clinton and a Republican Congress.  Hatch introduced the Senate version of this legislation last week (S.J. RES. 50) that Senate Democrats blocked yesterday when Hatch tried to move the measure forward to a vote.  

“Our nation is founded on the basic belief that if you work hard you can achieve the American Dream.  And by making work the cornerstone of welfare, as we did in the landmark 1996 bipartisan welfare reform, the most disadvantaged among us are put on a path towards helping themselves and their children achieve a better life,” said Hatch.  “Unfortunately, with the stroke of a pen, the Obama Administration unilaterally undermined work as a central component of welfare, which simply cannot be allowed to stand.  Never before has any Administration thought it has the authority to unilaterally waive welfare work requirements until now. The House has done the responsible thing to undo this clear breach of constitutional authority.  Now it’s up to the Senate to make a firm stand – a stand for work and a stand for constitutionally-mandated separation of powers.  While Senate Democrats rejected my effort to pass this critical legislation yesterday, under the Congressional Review Act the Senate must vote on my resolution of disapproval.  It is my sincere hope that members of both parties join me.”

Last week, Hatch introduced a Resolution of Disapproval to block the  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Informational Memorandum (IM) that would undermine welfare – also known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - work requirements that could allow activities such as bed rest, smoking cessation, and journaling to count as work.  Hatch introduced this resolution after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found the IM to be a rule that is subject to congressional review and approval or disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).  In addition, GAO found yesterday that until HHS’s announcement in July, no Administration, including the Obama Administration, has stated it has the authority to waive welfare work requirements.