Welfare Back on the Front Burner

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: With Congressional Republicans under election-year pressure to show constituents progress towards passage of sweeping changes in welfare reform law, Republican leaders dropped their insistence that any reform bill include politically unpalatable changes in Medicaid. The White House welcomed the news Friday and said that the prospects for passing a welfare overhaul bill this year have brightened considerably. Congress hopes to have a welfare reform bill on the President's desk before the August recess. Clinton has already vetoed two welfare reform bills that included turning Medicaid into block grants controlled by the states. "President Clinton will undoubtedly face a lot of pressure from liberal Democrats not to sign a welfare bill," says TIME's James Carney. "But early indications show that he will sign the bill into law." Republicans, led by former Senate Majority leader Bob Dole, had fought to keep the Medicaid legislation attached to the welfare bill in the hopes of denying the President an election year victory. With Thursday's shift in strategy, GOP lawmakers may gain personal credibility in their states for keeping their promise, but will also give Clinton the opportunity to make good on his 1992 campaign promise to "end welfare as we know it." The Dole campaign scrambled to take credit for the decision spearheaded by Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott, but the Republican candidate will not get a lot of mileage out of the issue unless President Clinton is forced to veto the new legislation. --Lamia Abu-Haidar