“I’m introducing this bill because the Obama administration grossly underminded the constitutional authority of the legislative branch to affect changes to settled law,” Hatch said on the floor.
“The Obama administration quietly released ‘guidance’ to the states informing them that the administration had granted itself authority to waive work requirements in TANF,” Hatch said. “In the 16 years since the creation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, no administration has concluded that they have the authority to waive the TANF work requirements.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the changes speed job placement.
"The changes proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services are designed to accelerate job placement by moving more Americans from welfare to work as quickly as possible," Carney said Wednesday. "There will be no waivers of the time limits in the law, and only waivers with compelling plans to move more people off of welfare and into work will be considered. This policy will allow states to test new, more effective ways to help people get and keep a job."
TANF includes the commonly called “welfare-to-work” program, which requires those receiving welfare payments to be employed or prove they’re looking for work.
Hatch said his bill, S. 3397, would not change TANF, just make it clear that the president doesn’t have the authority to change the law.
Republican Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyTop Dem Senate hopefuls to skip convention Election to shape Supreme Court Why one senator sees Gingrich as Trump's best VP choice MORE (Iowa), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Mike CrapoMike CrapoGOP warming up to Cuba travel Ann Coulter: VP pick is Trump's first mistake Overnight Finance: Freedom Caucus moves to impeach IRS chief | Calls for US-UK trade talks | Clinton ally offers trade for Trump tax returns MORE (Idaho), Pat RobertsPat RobertsMeet the rising GOP star who already enrages the left Senators ask IRS to issue guidance to help startups GOP makes new push on wildfire bills MORE (Kan.), Mike EnziMike EnziSanford-Enzi 'Penny Plan' gets nation to a balanced budget Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention Judd Gregg: The silver lining MORE (Wyo.), John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators to donors: Stick with us regardless of Trump Hopes dim for mental health deal Overnight Finance: Senate punts on Zika funding | House panel clears final spending bill | Biz groups press Treasury on tax rules | Obama trade rep confident Pacific deal passes this year MORE (Texas), Tom CoburnTom CoburnThe Trail 2016: Words matter Ex-Sen. Coburn: I won’t challenge Trump, I’ll vote for him Coburn: I haven't seen 'self-discipline' from Trump MORE (Okla.), John ThuneJohn ThuneFCC chief pushes phone companies to offer free robocall blocking How the new aviation law will affect your travel GOP chairman seeks answers about Tesla’s autopilot feature MORE (S.D.) and Richard BurrRichard BurrThe Trail 2016: Putting the past behind them The Hill's 12:30 Report Burr pledges to retire after one more Senate term MORE (N.C.) were listed as co-sponsors by Hatch.
Carney pointed out that some of the bill's co-sponsors have supported some waivers to TANF in the past.
"If I could address some of the hypocritical criticism — I have been surprised by it — by the hypocrisy of our critics since many of them have in the past supported and even proposed such waivers," Carney said.
During the 2005 welfare reauthorization, Grassley advocated for Republican governors who wanted flexibility to make changes to TANF.
Hatch admitted on the floor that the current program isn't perfect but said the administration shouldn't bypass Congress.