Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Showdown on Welfare Is Nearing in Senate

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Showdown on Welfare Is Nearing in Senate

Article excerpt

The Senate rejected on Thursday a Democratic plan to overhaul the nation's welfare system, setting the stage for a showdown next week over a Republican proposal that would end the federal guarantee of aid to the poor.

Although Democrats lost the battle for their own bill by a 45-54 vote, they vowed to continue to fight to make changes in the GOP plan.

Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, D-Ill., said she and her colleagues would focus on efforts designed to assure that federal money is available to pay for child care for mothers who are required to work in exchange for welfare benefits. About 60 percent of the women who get federal welfare benefits have children younger than 6.

The Democratic bill would have provided money to pay for child care; the Republican legislation contains no similar guarantee. Federal budget analysts have estimated that child care would cost $11 billion over the next five years; the GOP legislation provides about $1 billion.

Failure to adequately fund child care is "to make a mockery of welfare reform," said Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn. If that funding is not added to the GOP plan, he and other Democrats warned, states would have to raise taxes to make up the difference or could face the loss of federal aid for failing to meet federal standards for putting poor people to work.

Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., warned, "I hope we do not do real harm to this country in the name of welfare reform."

But Republicans countered that governors of both parties could be trusted to make sure that the children in their states were cared for and fed and argued that the elimination of federal restrictions would free up money that states could use for child care.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., said the Democrats wanted to replace one set of federal regulations with another and asserted that work requirements contained in their bill were riddled with loopholes. …

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