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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 9, 1996


I am returning herewith without my approval H.R. 4, the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1995." In disapproving H.R. 4, I am nevertheless determined to keep working with the Congress to enact real, bipartisan welfare reform. The current welfare system is broken and must be replaced, for the sake of the taxpayers who pay for it and the people who are trapped by it. But H.R. 4 does too little to move people from welfare to work. It is burdened with deep budget cuts and structural changes that fall short of real reform. I urge the Congress to work with me in good faith to produce a bipartisan welfare reform agreement that is tough on work and responsibility, but not tough on children and on parents who are responsible and who want to work.

The Congress and the Administration are engaged in serious negotiations toward a balanced budget that is consistent with our priorities -- one of which is to "reform welfare," as November's agreement between Republicans and Democrats made clear. Welfare reform must be considered in the context of other critical and related issues such as Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Americans know we have to reform the broken welfare system, but they also know that welfare reform is about moving people from welfare to work, not playing budget politics.

The Administration has and will continue to set forth in detail our goals for reform and our objections to this legislation. The Administration strongly supported the Senate Democratic and House Democratic welfare reform bills, which ensured that States would have the resources and incentives to move people from welfare to work and that children would be protected. I strongly support time limits, work requirements, the toughest possible child support enforcement, and requiring minor mothers to live at home as a condition of assistance, and I am pleased that these central elements of my approach have been addressed in H.R. 4.

We remain ready at any moment to sit down in good faith with Republicans and Democrats in the Congress to work out an acceptable welfare reform plan that is motivated by the urgency of reform rather than by a budget plan that is contrary to America's values. There is a bipartisan consensus around the country on the fundamental elements of real welfare reform, and it would be a tragedy for this Congress to squander this historic opportunity to achieve it. It is essential for the Congress to address shortcomings in the legislation in the following areas:

I am deeply committed to working with the Congress to reach bipartisan agreement on an acceptable welfare reform bill that addresses these and other concerns. We owe it to the people who sent us here not to let this opportunity slip away by doing the wrong thing or failing to act at all.



January 9, 1996.

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