An internal Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) memo from 2009 released Tuesday by Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp explores the legal justifications to allow the HHS secretary to waive work and other requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) that were part of the 1996 welfare reform law.
Last summer the Obama administration issued an Information Memorandum allowing states apply to waive the TANF work requirement. At the time, the administration said this was due to requests from some states for more flexibility and was meant as a way to test strategies “to improve employment outcomes for needy families.”
Republicans, including then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney, charged that the action “gut” the 1996 welfare reform.
According to Hatch and Camp, the memo shows that the Obama administration was looking to find ways to get around the work requirement years in advance of receiving requests from states.
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