New Democrats Introduce Welfare Reform Bill Today, Bayh, Carper to Testify Before Senate Finance Committee Thursday

WASHINGTON, DC – As the U.S. House of Representatives today votes on the Bush Administration’s welfare reform plan, a group of New Democrat Senators led by Evan Bayh, Tom Carper, and Bob Graham will formally introduce their bill – The Work and Family Act – in the Senate. Tomorrow, Bayh and Carper will testify before the Senate Finance Committee about the merits of their proposal for the next generation of welfare reform. The hearing will be held Thursday, May 16 at 10:30 a.m. in Room 215 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The Bayh-Carper-Graham approach aims to build on the successes of the landmark welfare reform bill passed in 1996 by setting bold objectives to put work first and strengthen families while giving states the resources and flexibility they need to accomplish those goals. Insisting that work is the best way to achieve self-sufficiency, the Senators want to increase state work participation requirements to 70 percent, replace the “caseload reduction credit” with an employment credit, and ask welfare recipients to work a full 40-hour week. But unlike the Administration’s proposal, the Bayh-Carper-Graham bill provides states with the resources – including $8 billion in child care funding – and incentives – such as a credit for moving people into higher-paying jobs – to succeed in moving more people to self-sufficiency. “We have a real opportunity to build on the successes of the last five years and move more Americans from welfare rolls to pay rolls,” Bayh said. “We set bold goals for moving people into good-paying jobs, and we strengthen families by confronting problems such as teen pregnancy and the epidemic of father absence. But most importantly, we give states the resources and flexibility they need to succeed.” “The goal is not to simply move people off of welfare but to move them into work and help them achieve real independence. Responsible welfare reform must demand work but also expand assistance for childcare, reduce teen pregnancy and offer a real opportunity for success,” Carper said. “The administration’s plan demands greater work but does not provide the help families need to meet those goals. Other plans promise more funding but have set the bar lower for work and thus demand less personal responsibility. Our bill combines the best of each.” Cosponsors of The Work and Family Act include Senators Evan Bayh, Tom Carper, Bob Graham, Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, Jean Carnahan, Zell Miller, Ben Nelson, and Bill Nelson.