Senate Faces Up To Welfare Reform

After weeks of bitter wrangling over unmarried teenage mothers, the Senate confronted on Saturday legislation that unravels the government’s guarantee to support poor families and gives states responsibility for designing their own welfare programs.

Introducing the measure, Senate Republican leader Bob Dole said there is “a true national consensus to transform welfare” and require that adult and able-bodied recipients find work and that welfare spending is capped.

But Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y, the Senate’s leading expert on the welfare system, expressed concern for the fate of the millions of children on welfare and said of the debate, “I hope the outcome will be better than forecast.”

The debate opens in earnest Monday and Dole said he hoped that after 40 to 80 hours of debate, a spirit of compromise can be reached.

Welfare reform, the keystone of the Republican social agenda, passed the House in March, swept through during the first 100 days as part of the GOP’s “Contract with America.”

But it has been tangled up in the Senate since late May.

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