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Welfare Integrity Now
On February 1, 2012, the United States House of Representatives voted on the Welfare Integrity Now for Children and Families Act of 2011. The bill, which was introduced by Representative Charles Boustany of Louisiana, passed through the House of Representatives overwhelmingly by 395 to 27. It now has to go through the Senate and pass to make it to the President to be signed into law. The problem is that the bill did not pass through the House unanimously.
The bill focused on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Under this program, people are given a debit card that can be used to take out cash from ATMs. The specific amount of money they have to use is from the government. Participants can take out cash from the ATM and use it for whatever needs they have. The Welfare Integrity Now for Children and Families Act of 2011 that passed through the House yesterday made an amendment to this program. The amendment states that the EBT card cannot be used in strip clubs, casinos, or liquor stores.
To most people, this seems very reasonable. Strip clubs, casinos, and liquor stores offer nothing that is needed to survive. The only things offered at those three venues are all luxuries and based on desire rather than need. It makes sense that the government assistance should not be used at any of these places. It seems like common sense that this amendment should be added to attempt to prevent abuse of federal money. However, it apparently wasn’t common sense to the 27 members of the House of Representatives who voted against the amendment.
While it may not be known why these representatives voted against the bill, it is absolutely atrocious. Boustany sponsored the bill because he believes it is the government’s responsibility to make sure that the tax payers’ money is not abused. "Providing access to welfare funds on EBT cards in strip clubs, liquor stores, and casinos was never the intent of the program," Boustany said, so it only makes sense for the bill to have gone through. The government assistance is meant to help people reestablish themselves and get back to being self-sustaining. Tax payers should be happy with this bill passing through the House because it is meant to help protect their money. While people will likely find another way around this new legislation and continue to abuse the money, this is at least one positive step taken by the government.
The real questions should be aimed at the 27 members of the House who voted against this bill. The members who essentially voted in favor of government money and tax payers’ dollars to be used at strip clubs, casinos, and liquor stores. These members are practically saying it is okay to abuse government assistance instead of people using it to get back on their feet. This bill was not meant in a cynical way or meant to be a shot at the poor. It was simply written to make sure money is used how it is supposed to be.