WASHINGTON – Republican Rep. Constance Morella is petitioning GOP House colleagues to support the Senate version of the welfare reform bill.
In a letter circulated this week among moderate Republicans and signed by 15 other representatives, Morella urged members to support funds for child care for welfare recipients and “reasonable” welfare programs.
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, an Eastern Shore Republican, was one of the letter co-signers.
“Americans want welfare reform that is effective and compassionate,” Morella, R-Montgomery, said in a press release. “They do not want Congress to embrace the extreme in this case.”
Morella and only four other Republicans voted March 24 against the House version of the bill.
It makes no provision for child care and does not address working mothers, said Mary Anne Leary, Morella’s press secretary. It allows states to determine whether or not to have a welfare program and replaces services such as foster care, adoption and protective services with federal block grants.
The Senate bill, passed Sept. 19, prohibits states from penalizing women who do not work because they cannot find affordable child care. It also forces states to use 80 percent of their block grant money on welfare and re-establishes child welfare services.
A House-Senate conference committee will address differences in the two bills beginning next week, Leary said.
“We hope the letters will have an effect on the conferees but no one has pulled out the crystal ball and predicted an outcome,” Leary said.
Morella said both parties should be able to agree on a moderate plan that requires work and responsibility.
Her efforts have been bolstered by a similar bi-partisan letter circulated by women members of the House and Senate, who also oppose segments of the House bill.
Both letters ask conferees to adopt the Senate version “for the benefit of children and families in poverty.”
Gilchrest said he signed the letter although he voted for the House bill.
“The House version was drastic,” Gilchrest said. Perhaps there needs to be some transition time before some of the more drastic measures proposed in the House bill take effect, he said.
Gilchrest added that President Clinton said he would not sign the House version but would support a moderate bill similar to the one passed in the Senate. -30-