Revised Welfare Rules Would Hinder Educational Pursuit, Some Say

Revised Welfare Rules Would Hinder Educational Pursuit, Some Say
By Charles Dervarics

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved sweeping changes to federal welfare policy that some argue will make it tougher for recipients to obtain needed educational services.

In passing H.R. 4 by a party-line vote, the House endorsed a series of changes, including a 40-hour work week for welfare recipients. Current law mandates a 30-hour work week, and education advocates had hoped to soften — rather than tighten — rules regarding time spent in postsecondary education programs.

H.R. 4 “is not really designed to get rid of poverty, and that is what we are trying to do,” says Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., a Congressional Black Caucus member. In addition to imposing new work requirements, it also would limit time in educational programs to no more than four months over a two-year period. Current law allows 12 months in education over five years.

“Welfare reform is working in America because we’re helping people go to work and build better lives for themselves and their families,” says U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. The action now moves to the Senate, where aides expect to prepare a welfare bill for action this spring.

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