GOP brings back bill to stop Obama welfare waivers

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The Obama policy allows states to apply for waivers under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, or welfare reform, in order to test new ways to increase employment among welfare recipients.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said that states with waivers must move 20 percent more people from welfare to work, or lose the additional flexibility.

Opponents of the policy say it will allow states to count activities such as bed rest or journaling as work. Sebelius has denied this.

The Obama administration unveiled the policy last summer, and the House voted to block it in September, 250-164. Efforts to do the same in the Senate went nowhere.

The debate lit a firestorm during the presidential election as Republican nominee Mitt Romney used it to question President Obama's commitment to effective assistance programs.

"Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check," one Romney ad charged.

States have asked for flexibility under TANF's bureaucracy, and the Bush administration pushed for similar changes to the program.

But Republicans question HHS's legal authority to issue waivers without congressional approval.

"Not only is it bad policy, but the president lacks the authority to erase the work requirements Congress wrote into the bipartisan law," Camp said Thursday.

He introduced the bill alongside Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee; Steve Scalise (R-La.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee; and Steve Southerland (R-Fla.).