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Similarities, differences in bills

Major provisions in the differing welfare bills passed by the House and Senate:

Entitlement

SENATE: The federal guarantee of aid to families with dependent children would be ended, replaced by limited spending through block grants to the states.

HOUSE: Same.

Time limits

SENATE: Welfare benefits limited to five years; states could exempt 20 percent of families for hardship.

HOUSE: Essentially the same, except states could impose a shorter time limit.

Work requirements

SENATE: Adults would be required to go to work within two years of receiving benefits, or the benefits would be lost.

HOUSE: Similar.

Additional children

SENATE: At the last minute, the Senate deleted a provision denying federal money to pay benefits for extra children born to women already on welfare.

HOUSE: That provision remains, but states could exempt their residents from the rule.

Savings

SENATE: About $60-billion over six years, most of it by cutting food stamps and benefits to immigrants.

HOUSE: About the same.

Food stamps

SENATE: Retains a federal entitlement for food stamps with no limit on spending. But the formula for calculating benefits would be tightened, resulting, says one advocacy group, in cutting the average benefit from 80 cents per meal per person to 65 cents by 2002.

HOUSE: Similar.

Food stamps cutoff

SENATE: Able-bodied people between 18 and 50 with no dependents generally would lose food stamp eligibility after four months per year if they didn't work or go to job training 20 hours per week.

HOUSE: The same people would be limited to three months of benefits during their lifetimes unless they went to work at least 20 hours a week.

Non-citizens

SENATE: Future legal immigrants would be ineligible for food stamps, cash welfare and Medicaid for five years. Current legal immigrants would get no food stamps until they become citizens.

HOUSE: Legal immigrants who have not become citizens would be barred from receiving food stamps and Medicaid; states also could deny them welfare benefits.

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