With the economy booming and businesses desperate for workers, now is the perfect time to pass welfare reform legislation, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said Wednesday.
"We do have a booming economy and businesses of all sizes are desperate for new workers; yet, we have millions of Americans on the sidelines, trapped in our welfare system," Brady told Fox News' "Happening Now." "This is the perfect time to really restore the promise of the 1996 welfare reforms led by [former] Speaker Newt Gingrich and signed by President [Bill] Clinton."
The House Ways and Means Committee, which Brady chairs, is acting Wednesday afternoon to move the legislation forward as part of its Republican "Better Way" agenda, which is focused on getting people "from the sidelines to the frontlines of the workforce, getting a job, but keeping a job."
The legislation, the Jobs and Opportunity with Benefits and Services for Success Act, will have a huge focus on the workplace, and builds off the 1996 reform legislation by setting new standards, Brady said.
"We build off those reforms but do some important things," Brady said. "One, the reforms in the 90s directed states to engage half of those on welfare to get them to work. A lot of states aren't engaging anyone. We set a new standard. Everyone who is work eligible will have a game plan to get back to the workforce."
Secondly, the 1990s legislation focused mainly on women, and the new act will too, but also on men.
"We know that there are seven million men missing from this economy, of prime working age who could be an important part of America's growth going forward as well," Brady said. "The final key point here is that in the 1996 reforms we focus on getting people into a job, even if it was temporary in a sense. We are really refocusing on getting a job and keeping a job."
Brady also spoke out about the call for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to step down before his term ends, after the Wisconsin lawmaker announced earlier this year he does not plan to seek re-election.
"I think there is strong support for the speaker continuing to lead," Brady said. "A good example, look at our Better Way agenda led by Speaker Ryan. Tax reform, rebuilding the military, getting red tape out of the way and welfare reform. We're following as House Republicans that conservative pro growth agenda the speaker laid out. Let's follow this agenda, deliver on our promises to make a stronger November. I don't want speaker Nancy Pelosi to be taking the gavel next January."
He also said he does not think it is fair to blame the failure of recent farm bill legislature on Ryan.
"The speaker has worked very closely with those of us who support border security and the wall as well as those members who want the find a solution on DACA, and I think the farm bill was just part of the posturing on that," Brady said. "I actually think we're moving toward positive solutions, and I credit the speaker and our conference working together to get this done."
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