March 25, 1995 in Nation/World

House Passes Sweeping Welfare Package Bill Would End New Deal Promise Of Benefits To Anyone In Need

Vanessa Gallman Knight-Ridder
 

The House passed a welfare bill Friday that the Congressional Budget Office says will wipe out all or part of the benefits for as many as 12.8 million families.

The plan ends the country’s longstanding guarantee of benefits to anyone in need, denies aid to most legal immigrants, sets up work requirements for those getting help and allows states to design their own welfare programs.

Republicans say the plan will save as much as $66 billion over the next five years and send a message that the poor must take more personal responsibility for solving their own problems.

“Every once in a while, we do something that makes a real difference in the lives of real people,” House Majority Leader Richard Armey, R-Texas, said after the 234-199 vote, which was mostly along party lines. “This is the first step in reforming a failed welfare system into a system that encourages self-sufficiency.”

The legislation now goes to the Senate, where prospects are murky. Hearings are just getting under way and lawmakers in both parties have expressed reservations about cutting off assistance to teenage mothers and other needy families.

And President Clinton, who has veto power,

has criticized the plan as “weak on work and tough on children,” except for the tough provisions for collecting child-support payments.

The GOP plan would end or consolidate about 40 programs that provide cash benefits, medical services, child care, school lunches and other nutrition programs, and would replace them by sending blocks of money to the states.

Families on welfare for more than five years, most legal immigrants, teenage mothers, drug addicts and alcoholics and some disabled children would no longer be eligible for various benefits.

Only food stamps - which helps 1 in 10 people, many of them the working poor - would remain a federal program that the needy could count on for help.

Members of the Senate Finance Committee, which would have primary responsibility for the legislation, have not been enthusiastic about either state control or ending the federal guarantee of aid.

Several problems will follow the legislation:

Some anti-abortion advocates are still convinced the bill would encourage abortions by denying cash aid to teen mothers and benefit increases to welfare mothers who have more children.

The Congressional Budget Of fice report questioned whether the work requirements under the GOP plan could be met, underscoring Democratic complaints that the plan does little to prepare people for jobs.

The ban on legal immigrants, which led two Cuban-American GOP lawmakers to vote against the plan, could hurt the GOP at a time when it’s trying to reach out to minorities.

The whole argument for sending money to the states is weakened by the decision to keep food stamps as an entitlement. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., fought to keep it a federal program, saying there needed to be at least one “safety net” for the poor.

xxxx

The welfare bill The vote: 234 to 199 The bill: Would save $66 billion over five years by…. Barring most legal immigrants from receiving food stamps, non-emergency health care, some social services. Exceptions would be made for refugees, the elderly, veterans and the military. Consolidating nine federal child care programs in a block grant to the states; capping spending. Combining school breakfast and lunch programs into a block grant to the states. Combining funding for several nutrition programs into a block grant to the states. Holding food stamp benefit increases to 2 percent per year and requiring all able-bodied people to work. Replacing Aid to Families with Dependent Children with a block grant to the states. Unmarried mothers under the age of 18 would not be allowed to receive cash aid. No additional benefits to women who have additional children while on welfare. Banning disability payments to drug addicts and alcoholics; trimming cash payments to children with behavioral or mental disabilities. Associated Press

How they voted. Here’s how Northwest lawmakers voted on welfare reform. A “yes” vote is a vote to pass the bill. Idaho. Republicans - Helen Chenoweth, Y; Mike Crapo, Y. Washington. Republicans - Jennifer Dunn, Y; Doc Hastings, Y; Jack Metcalf, Y; George Nethercutt, Y; Linda Smith, Y; Randy Tate, Y; Rick White, Y. Democrats - Norm Dicks, N; Jim McDermott, N.

Get stories like this in a free daily email


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus