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GOP Agrees on Cutting Welfare by $80 Billion

From Associated Press

Congressional Republicans agreed to reduce federal spending on anti-poverty programs by more than $80 billion over the next seven years as they worked Friday to settle final differences on legislation to transform the welfare system.

Although able to resolve sideline issues separating the House and Senate on the issue of welfare, negotiators were still divided on two of most contentious matters: whether to end cash payments to unmarried teen-age mothers and children born into welfare-dependent families.

Also unresolved were whether and how the federal food stamp and school lunch programs should be turned over to the states as block grants, said Republicans involved in the negotiations.

The House passed its “contract with America” welfare bill in March; the Senate followed in September with a more moderate plan that won the support of 35 Democrats and, initially, President Clinton.

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The President is under pressure from traditional Democratic allies--civil rights groups and advocates for children and women--to veto the legislation because his own studies show that the Senate plan could push an additional 1.2 million children into poverty and make many other poor children even worse off.

The House bill would have reduced federal welfare spending by close to $90 billion over the next seven years; the Senate’s would have saved about $65 billion.

The compromise plan would reduce spending on welfare by $81.5 billion, and save another $32.5 billion from the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor, negotiators said.

Both House and Senate welfare bills abolish Aid to Families With Dependent Children, require welfare recipients to work after two years and cut off their benefits after five.

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