As the recession continues onward, House Republicans are worried that those receiving welfare payments may be having a bit too good of a time.
The chamber will again vote Wednesday on a bill which would ensure that electronic withdrawals of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families dollars aren't allowed to be withdrawn from ATMs at strip clubs, casinos or liquor stores. TANF replaced national welfare programs after the welfare reforms of 1996.
The measure, sponsored by Louisiana Republican Rep. Charles Boustany, had originally been approved by the House in December as part of a larger funding measure for welfare programs, but it was dropped from the final law. Now, it will get a stand-alone vote, along with several other measures which face an uncertain future in the Senate.
"The abuse of [electronic benefits transfer] cards must stop," Boustany said when the measure was first proposed in December.
The calls for greater restrictions on how welfare dollars are spent have grown as media reports have continued to highlight TANF payment misuse. In 2010, then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger blocked the use of welfare ATM cards at casinos and strip clubs, after it was reported that $5 million in TANF dollars were spent at casinos over three years. This bill would implement that ban nationwide.
While supporters claim that the bill is necessary to safeguard taxpayer dollars, critics claim it is stigmatizing those hit with hard times to score political points. Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore, claimed that the bill would "humiliate and marginalize" poor people.
"It many neighborhoods, the closest ATM is located in a nearby liquor store," Moore said when the bill was debated in December.
The bill is one of four measures which will see a vote Wednesday, according to a Republican source. While their chances of surviving in the Senate are slim, Republicans will likely use the votes to try to bludgeon Democrats—just as Democrats hope to use symbolic votes on measures such as the "Buffett Rule" to paint the GOP in a bad light.
Coming off of the heels of a Congressional Budget Office report showing that federal employees are paid, on average, more than their private sector counterparts, the House will also take a vote on a bill which would freeze the pay of federal employees and members of Congress. Another bill would slash the budgets for committees in the House.
Congress will also be voting on a bill which would repeal the CLASS Act, part of the Affordable Care Act which the president has already declined to implement.
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