The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 26, 2002

Fact Sheet: President Announces Welfare Reform Agenda

  The President's Plan to Strengthen Welfare Reform
  Policy in Focus: Welfare Reform

President Bush announced his welfare reform agenda to strengthen families and help more welfare recipients work toward independence and self-reliance.  The President’s agenda builds on the success of the historic 1996 welfare reform law:

Key Components of the President’s Welfare Reform Agenda

Helping Welfare Recipients Achieve Independence Through Work

Protecting Children & Strengthening Families

Encouraging Innovation by States to Help Welfare Recipients Achieve Independence

Providing Assistance for Legal Immigrants in Need


In 1996, a Republican Congress and a Democratic Administration came together to reach a historic, bipartisan agreement to reform the welfare system.  This historic welfare reform has been one of the greatest public policy successes in decades:

Even with these notable successes, much remains to be done to improve the welfare system for those in need and to help welfare recipients on the path to self-reliance and independence.

As part of the 1996 reforms, Congress ended the welfare entitlement under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, and replaced it with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, a $16.6 billion per year block grant to states and territories.  Under TANF, welfare recipients are required to work in exchange for time-limited benefits, and states enjoy significant flexibility in designing the eligibility criteria and benefit rules. Additionally, Congress provided bonuses to states for high performance and for reducing non-marital births.  

President Bush proposes to build on the success of the bipartisan 1996 reform law by making welfare even more focused on the well-being of children and supportive of families.  His plan will strengthen and improve the TANF program by maintaining the same overall funding level ($16.6 billion per year) and basic structure established under the 1996 welfare reform law while making improvements in several key areas to encourage welfare recipients to work toward independence.

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