Human Resources Up-Date
Aside from Carol Whitesell's firsthand account of life on welfare, information concerning the welfare picture from various League sources has been sparse lately. 4.e hope that you are watching the newspapers for up-to-the-minute details regarding legislation either introduced or pending at both the State and National levels. Many public hearings have been held by our legislative committees on welfare-related bills.
On the national scene, HR 1, introduced by Chairman Wilbur Mills (D-Ark) and ranking minority member John W. Byrnes (R-Wisc.) of the House Ways and Means Committee, is the ONLY welfare measure the Committee plans to consider. HR 1 is a combination bill: social security (OASDI) and welfare reform with a family assistance plan included as an amendment to Title IV of the Social security Act,
by adding a new section - "Part D". The welfare reform provisions are essentially the same as in HR 16311, the Family Assistance Act of 1970 reported by ;days and Means last year and passed with a few changes by the House. You were briefed on HR 16311 at units last fall and should have a printed outline of the benefits sought.
One further comment: "The Family Assistance Act of 1970" is being referred to as "welfare Reform Act of 1971" -- a change in title only. Also, the Administration is not backing an "Administration Bill" this year, but is working instead in closed session with the Ways and Means Committee to get its points across.
How does HR 1 meet League criteria?
HR 1 covers all low-income FAMILIES whose income is less than $1500/ year for the first two members and $3/year for each additional member, and whose resources, with certain exceptions,
are less than $1500/ year. League wants coverage [...] to ALL
ALL Low income people, based on need.
Regarding the dollar amount of the cash payment, HR 1 would provide a $1600
income floor. League feels that benefit levels should be sufficient to provide decent, adequate standards for food, clothing and shelter.
HR 1 requires state supplementation so that current levels of welfare assistance would not be lowered. This would continue the present inequities in assistance levels between states. League supports a system in which the federal government bears a MAJOR responsibility for providing income assistance to meet basic needs, with standards adjusted for regional differences.
Regarding wok registration provisions, HR 1 requires all able-bodied persons to register with the local public employment office. Failure to register for manpower services would result in the loss of the assistance payment for that unregistered family The Administration would impose an additional penalty
for registration failure; a cut-back in state supplementation. League opposes any registration requirement which can be used punitively to keep needy people from receiving assistance during training or until they are employed, or to demean individual dignity. If registration is a "must" price for bill passage, League wants legal protections and monitoring systems, including separating administration
of assistance payments and registration requirements.
HR 1 requires each registered individual to take vocational rehabilitation
training, job training or "suitable" employment within a reasonable time, or suffer loss of his share of benefits. The Administration wants the same penalties for failure to accept jobs as for failure to register. League prefers that the link between job programs and assistance should be positive: counseling, realistic training for actual jobs, financial incentives, etc.
When some form of HR 1 is reported out of the Ways and Means Committee, keep the above points in mind when weighing the desirability of passage of the bill.