A key House subcommittee began its effort to reshape the welfare system Monday, with Democrats calling the Republicans mean and Republicans insisting Democrats are unwilling to let go of a failed system.
The GOP bill fashioned after the subcommittee had heard testimony from 160 lawmakers, experts and citizens - seeks to punish illegitimacy, deny benefits to legal immigrants and give states more flexibility in how they spend welfare money.
“The Republican bill is tough and mean,” said Rep. Harold E. Ford, ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee. “What we, as Democrats, want is something that’s tough and fair for children and families who we can put in the workplace and move into education and training and to make sure that they become self-sufficient.”
The subcommittee, which has eight Republicans and five Democrats, plans to meet every day this week to fashion a bill that can be sent to the full Ways and Means Committee. Some welfare legislation, such as work programs, child care and food stamps, is being debated in other committees.