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Kline Statement: H.J.Res. 118, providing for congressional disapproval of the administration’s July 12, 2012 waiver of welfare work requirements

I rise today in strong support of H.J.Res. 118, a resolution disapproving the Obama administration’s attempt to roll back successful welfare reforms. 

The resolution we are considering today is quite simple. It preserves bipartisan policies that serve low-income families, and reins in this latest example of executive overreach by the Obama administration.

In 1996, a Republican Congress worked with a Democratic president to fix a broken welfare system. By promoting work as a central focus of helping individuals achieve self-sufficiency, this bipartisan achievement reduced poverty and strengthened the income security of millions of needy families.

The success of the law is a testament to the power of work and personal responsibility, as well as what we can achieve when both sides work together in good faith.

Unfortunately, the bipartisan spirit of welfare reform has been tarnished by the Obama administration’s decision to waive the historic work requirements, ending welfare reform as we know it.While this action is troubling, it isn’t surprising. The president has a track record of weakening work requirements in other federal programs, including unemployment benefits and food stamps. The results have been disappointing.

A memo by the Congressional Research Service notes the number of able-bodied adults on food stamps doubled – that’s right, doubled – after the president suspended the program’s work requirement. And now we are supposed to believe a similar experiment will help families on welfare.


This is also not the first time the president has been guilty of executive overreach.

The Obama administration has coerced states to adopt its education agenda through conditional waivers, ignoring congressional efforts to  reauthorize the law. Now states and schools face more uncertainty than ever about the future of our nation’s education system, and remain tied to a broken law.

Additionally, the president has announced which immigration laws he will and won’t enforce, and installed unconstitutional non-recess recess appointments on the National Labor Relations Board.

Despite all these heavy-handed attempts to advance the president’s agenda, 23 million workers are still searching for a full-time job and 46 million Americans are still living in poverty.

Too many of our fellow citizens are unemployed and trapped in poverty not because of failed welfare policies, but because of President Obama’s failed leadership.

If the president has ideas for enhancing flexibility in welfare policies he must submit those proposals to Congress and work with us to change the law. He has not done that. Instead, he has chosen to adopt a controversial waiver scheme that rewrites the law through executive fiat.

The good news is we have an opportunity today to tell the president, “Stop.”

Stop rewriting federal law behind closed doors.

Stop promoting schemes that undermine personal responsibility and encourage government dependency.

Stop advancing failed policies and start working with Congress on positive solutions that will grow our economy and create jobs. The American people desperately need and expect as much from their elected leaders.

I urge my colleagues to support H.J.Res. 118 and take a stand against the president’s unlawful effort to roll back reforms that continue to help lift families out of poverty.

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