Obama 'disappointed' in GOP bill blocking welfare waivers

The Obama administration voiced concerns over a GOP bill to block state welfare waivers but stopped short of threatening to veto the measure Tuesday.

In a statement of administration policy, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) slammed the House bill (H.R. 890) for seeking to hamper "innovative" programs that would help more welfare recipients find work.


The administration also said the bill would have "no practical effect," given that no states have applied for or been given waivers under welfare reform.

Federal health officials touched off a firestorm last summer when they announced that states could apply for greater flexibility under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in exchange for moving more welfare recipients into jobs. 

Republicans criticized the move as an attempt to weaken welfare's work requirement, and it became an issue in the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

On Tuesday, OMB praised the GOP bill for reauthorizing TANF but said it was "disappointed" that the measures includes an "unnecessary bar to innovative welfare-to-work strategies."

"The administration notes that this flexibility was requested by governors on both sides of aisle to allow states to test new, more effective ways to place more people on a path to self-sufficiency," the statement read.

Republicans say current welfare policy needs no such adjustment.

The measure is sponsored by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and has 23 cosponsors.