White House tries to sideline welfare-to-work vote

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

White House spokesman Jay Carney is trying to head off a proposed congressional rejection on the administration’s July proposal to weaken the popular and successful 1996 work-to-welfare reform law.

His comments came the day after the Government Accountability Office said the White House should allow Congress to rule on the White House proposal.

“This is pretty arcane stuff and there is a many-year, multi-administration dispute between the executive branch and the Congress over how these kinds of guidances should be viewed,” Carney told reporters near the end of a Sept. 5 press conference.

“Beyond that, I don’t have any reaction,” he said, as he ended an informal press conference on Air Force One, en route to the Democrats’ convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Congress has the legal authority to strike down new administration regulations, and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Michigan Rep. David Camp are negotiating with their GOP leaders to schedule a vote to bar the administration’s welfare-to-work changes.

If approved by simple majorities in the House and Senate, the resolution would be sent to Obama for approval.

Administration officials and their Democratic allies have furiously denounced the GOP’s efforts to highlight the welfare-to-work rollback.

Romney “is lying” about the welfare change, former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland charged on Tuesday at the Democratic convention. “Simple as that,” said Strickland, who was defeated in the 2010 GOP landslide.

GOP officials say those efforts have moved polls in their direction, especially in critical Midwest swing states such as Ohio.

Any congressional vote would create a problem for Democrats, because it would publicize the attempted rollback.

If Democrats voted against the bill, it would give Romney and other Republicans another opportunity to showcase unpopular Democratic policies.

If Democrats support the bill, it would also help Republicans by bolstering their charges and boosting the controversy.

Follow Neil on Twitter