The House Education and Labor Committee endorsed a sweeping revision of the nation's major welfare program yesterday and voted a $500 million authorization to start the bill's key work-and-training programs for welfare recipients in fiscal 1988, a year earlier than previously proposed.
An amendment by Rep. Dale E. Kildee (D-Mich.) added $150 million more a year to help train day-care workers and to develop facilities to care for children of parents enrolled in the work-and-training programs.
The bill, initially drafted and approved by the House Ways and Means Committee, for the first time requires states to establish large-scale mandatory remedial education, job training and job placement progams designed to shift low-income parents off the Aid to Families with Dependent Children welfare rolls and onto payrolls. About 3.8 million such parents, nearly all women, are now on the AFDC rolls.
The Ways and Means Committee has proposed that the federal government automatically reimburse states for 65 percent of their expenditures on the work-and-training programs, starting in fiscal 1989, as an entitlement.
The Education and Labor Committee did not change the formula, but, led by Chairman Augustus F. Hawkins (D-Calif.), rewrote many of the details of the work provisions, over which it shares jurisdiction, and placed them under the control of the Labor Department.
The panel added the $500 million authorization to let states start applying work provisions in fiscal 1988, in some cases getting 90 percent reimbursement from the federal government. The $500 million, however, would not be provided automatically and would require an appropriation.
Hawkins' language left open the possibility that an appropriation could be used as the funding mechanism in future years as well, rather than the 65 percent automatic entitlement as proposed by the Ways and Means Committee.
Another major Hawkins change would wipe out the "workfare" provision of existing law, pushed through several years ago by President Reagan, that allows states to make welfare clients "work off" their benefits at unpaid community jobs. Hawkins would permit unpaid work-experience jobs for three months, but only as part of a real training program. They could be extended for another three months if the client agreed. The Ways and Means bill would allow six months without renewal.
Another Hawkins provision would authorize paid, government-subsidized jobs for welfare parents unable to find regular work after training and job search.
There were no audible "nays" from Republicans as Hawkins won approval of the revised bill.
But GOP members strongly objected earlier when Democrats added, 20 to 14, a Kildee amendment stating that no AFDC parent of a child under 15 could be required to participate in the work-and-training programs unless the child was guaranteed day care.
Rep. Steve Bartlett (R-Tex.) charged the Kildee proposal "would exempt the vast majority" of AFDC mothers and thus undermine the purpose of the bill. The Ways and Means version had spelled out a day-care requirement only if the child was under six, leaving states to decide on older children.
Democrats also defeated an amendment by Rep. Marge Roukema (R-N.J.) to wipe out a Hawkins provision allowing a welfare parent to stay on the AFDC rolls for four years while taking a full-time undergraduate college courseload, with no obligation to seek work or job training. Rep. Charles A. Hayes (D-Ill.) called the Roukema amendment "insulting to people on welfare."
In action on the bill Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which also shares jurisdiction, voted tentatively to allow welfare parents to stay on Medicaid for two years after they work their way off the AFDC rolls.
The Ways and Means version -- in provisions over which it has exclusive jurisdiction and which Hawkins did not touch -- also requires states to provide AFDC benefits to families where the father is present but unemployed, as half the states now do. It also increases federal reimbursement rates for states 25 percent for benefit increases they make starting Oct. 1, 1988.
The Ways and Means version was estimated to cost $5.2 billion over five years for all provisions, not including the added Hawkins and Medicaid provisions. The Reagan administration strongly objects to most of the provisions. There has been no Senate action.