President Clinton berated Republicans for planning to move welfare recipients into jobs while denying them child-care benefits.
"We don't want more welfare mothers staying at home, living on welfare, just because they can't find child care," Clinton said Saturday in his weekly radio address. "Cutting child care will make it harder for parents to get off and stay off welfare."
The president did not directly mention Republicans in his address. But his complaints against "many in Congress" were clearly directed at GOP moves to cut off child care.
"It is pure fantasy to believe we can put a welfare mother to work unless we provide child care for her children," Clinton said. "We don't need more latchkey kids. We certainly don't need more neglected children."
The welfare overhaul approved by the House in March would stop transitional benefits that now cover child care or health insurance for a limited time after a recipient finds work. The Senate is bogged down in internal disagreements among Republicans about the shape of its proposal.
The president said he was disappointed that Republicans would not meet his July 4 deadline for delivering a welfare reform package to the White House, but he remained hopeful for a bipartisan solution.
Republicans in both chambers want to turn responsibility for Aid to Families with Dependent Children over to the states as a block grant and set a five-year limit on lifetime benefits.
Clinton said he supports setting a time limit on welfare benefits, but that it would be shortsighted to cut off child-care benefits to save money.
Clinton said his administration is trying to give states more flexibility in administering the welfare program by granting waivers from cumbersome federal rules when they have good ideas of their own. Twenty-nine states have received waivers so far.