Stepping up the pace of work on legislation to balance the federal budget, Republican leaders decided Friday that welfare recipients engaged in community service should not have the full protection of the minimum wage and other federal labor standards.
The decision to exempt welfare recipients in state “workfare” programs from such worker protections sets up a conflict between the Republican Congress and the president.
President Clinton has said people on welfare are generally entitled to the minimum wage and other protections of federal labor laws.
The decision on welfare was one of many made Friday by committee chairmen from the House and the Senate as they held meetings with congressional leaders in the office of Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Sen. Pete V. Domenici, the New Mexico Republican who is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said the Republicans had resolved 85 percent of the issues in the deficit-reduction bill.
The lawmakers did not resolve the biggest disputes between the Senate and the House over Medicare: whether to impose higher premiums on higher-income beneficiaries, whether to increase the age of eligibility and whether to establish a new charge of $5 a visit for home health care services.
Republican senators continued to push for the “means test,” an increase in the eligibility age and the $5 co-payment.
House members continued to oppose all three, saying they would not accept any of the changes unless President Clinton unequivocally endorsed them.
Clinton has said he is, in principle, willing to accept the idea of a means test for Medicare, perhaps even as part of this year’s budget bill.