By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Representative Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile said in his weekly column that he voted for H.J. 118 that would restore the landmark welfare work requirements passed by President Clinton and a Republican Congress led by then Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Congressman Bonner said, “Sixteen years ago, a Democrat president and a Republican Congress did what, frankly, very few ever expected. They reached across the political gulf and worked together to tackle the thorny issue of welfare dependence. Faced with a flawed system that actually discouraged people from seeking a better life, politicians found a solution that most Americans agreed was the right path. Unfortunately, a decade and a half later, President Obama has chosen to reverse the progress of bipartisan welfare reform.”
Rep. Bonner said that over time welfare had, “Become a trap, snaring many in a web of government dependency. Up until the reforms of the mid-90s, 65 percent of families receiving welfare remained on its rolls for eight or more years, and individuals received benefits an average of 13 years over their lifetimes. Without an incentive to seek employment, families were captured by a system that actually made it less attractive to leave. Clearly, a decade or more of dependency was a track record of failure. Realizing the need for change, President Clinton – reluctantly at first – eventually joined with a conservative Congress to undo the damage of the broken welfare system and pledged to “end welfare as we know it” to better serve those in need of a hand up. The reform law replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant program.”
Rep. Bonner said, “The bipartisan welfare reform law made a positive difference. Welfare rolls dropped by 57 percent. Poverty among single mothers declined by 30 percent. Furthermore, single mothers saw their employment and earnings increase. Despite the prolonged recession currently gripping the nation, the number of poor children living in female-headed households is still less than in 1996. It is, therefore, disappointing that the Obama administration has chosen to reverse course.”
The Mobile Congressman said, “On July 12, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a memorandum allowing states to seek a waiver from the welfare reform law’s work requirements. This move is ill advised and should be overruled by Congress.”
Rep. Bonner voted for H.J. Res. 118, which “expresses Congress’s disapproval of the Obama administration’s unilateral action to gut the bipartisan welfare reform law. The resolution also prevents the White House from implementing its controversial new waiver policy without the consent of Congress.” The resolution passed the House 250 to 164. Rep. Bonner admits that the bill faces an uncertain future in the Democrat controlled Senate.