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November 21, 1995
Welfare Conference Agreement Is Harder on Children
Than Senate-Passed Welfare Bill
The welfare "reform" bill hammered out in a House-Senate conference
committee is worse in many important respects than the original Senate-passed
bill. The Senate bill was bad enough, and would have shredded key parts
of the guaranteed federal safety net for children. But the conference agreement
would harm children even more by:
- Cutting $82 billion in essential help for children and families. (The
Senate bill would have cut $65 billion, while the House bill called for
cutting $92 billion.)
- Repealing key child protection guarantees. (The Senate bill retained
all current child protection guarantees; the conference agreement keeps
the guarantee only for room and board costs for foster care and adoption,
and also block grants non-entitlement programs designed to prevent child
abuse and neglect.)
- Weakening the Senate's already inadequate maintenance of effort requirement
by dropping the level of mandated state spending from 80 percent to 75
percent. This change could result in an additional 200,000 children being
denied cash assistance nationwide.
- Reducing the proportion of families that states can exempt from the
five-year time limit due to hardship, potentially denying cash help to
as many as another 600,000 children. (The Senate proposed allowing 20 percent
of families to be exempt; the conference agreement cuts that to 15 percent.)
- Deleting the Senate's exemption of battered women from work requirements,
as well as the Senate's more reasonable work requirement for mothers with
young children (20 hours per week instead of 35 hours per week).
- Imposing a more restrictive family cap mandate. The conference agreement
would require states to pass legislation explicitly exempting themselves
from such a requirement, rather than leaving it as a simple state option
as under the Senate bill.
- Attempting to preclude the U.S. Department of Justice and federal courts
from enforcing civil rights laws and preventing state fraud or abuse.
- Cutting child care funds by more than $2 billion from the already inadequate
Senate level, gutting existing health and safety standards for federally
financed child care, and reducing funding for quality.
- Imposing deeper overall cuts in food stamps and child nutrition, and
reducing SSI benefits to disabled child applicants deemed to have less
- Rejecting the Senate provision that allows undocumented children to
continue to receive school lunch and other child nutrition assistance.
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Go to Brad DeLong's Home
Associate Professor of Economics Brad De
Long, 601 Evans
University of California at Berkeley; Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
(510) 643-4027 phone (510) 642-6615 fax