WASHINGTON – Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin today blasted House Republicans for bringing a welfare bill to the floor that "sabotages the 1996 welfare reform effort by making it much harder for states to provide education and job training to welfare recipients."
The Congressman, the leading Democrat on the Human Resources Subcommittee which oversees welfare reform, offered a Democratic alternative bill that would:
* Expand access to funding for job training and education;
* Increase child care funding by $11 billion over five years;
* Make reducing poverty an explicit goal by rewarding states that reduce child poverty;
* Encourage family formation and responsible parenting by passing through more child-support payments to low-income families; and
* End the current prohibition on States providing certain assistance to legal immigrants.
"The 1996 welfare reform bill succeeded because it provided for state flexibility. The Republican measure is a step backward because it undercuts the ability of states to provide job training, education and child care for those leaving welfare," said Rep. Cardin.
The Congressman said the Republican bill is really "an unfunded mandate that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost states between $8 billion and $11 billion. In addition, states may be forced to cut serves for low-income families to pay for these new, unfunded welfare requirements." He also pointed out that 41 out of 47 states surveyed by the National Governor's Association have said that the Republican bill will require fundamental changes to their welfare-to-work programs.
Rep. Cardin also noted that states are currently facing large budget deficits, and "unfunded mandates from the federal government are the last thing Congress should be doing."
He added: "Reducing poverty and maintaining state flexibility should be the goals of welfare reform. Unfortunately, the Republican welfare reform measure fails this test."