Political notebook

House passes bill to block White House from waiving welfare work rules

WASHINGTON — Renewing a political fight from last year’s presidential campaign, House Republicans passed a bill Wednesday that would prevent the Obama administration from waiving work requirements in the landmark 1996 welfare overhaul law.

Republicans say President Obama is trying to weaken work requirements in the law — a claim that is disputed by administration officials and Democrats in Congress.

‘‘Clearly the best way out of poverty is a job and it is critical that our laws both foster job creation as well as ensure welfare is always a pathway to work,’’ said Representative Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan, who chairs theWays and Means Committee.


The bill passed on a mostly party-line vote of 246-181.

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The bill also authorizes funding for cash welfare benefits through the end of the year at current levels. Without an extension, federal funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program would run out March 27.

Senate Democrats are expected to oppose the waiver provision. The House passed a similar provision last year and it died in the Senate.

Last summer, the Obama administration said it would be willing to grant states waivers of some of the law’s requirements but only if governors can show they can accomplish the same welfare-to-work goals using different methods.

No state applied for a waiver. The White House said they were ‘‘deterred in part by inaccurate claims about what the policy involves.’’

— Associated Press

White House tours may resume on limited basis


WASHINGTON — President Obama is opening the door to the possibility of restarting White House tours, at least for student groups, amid confusion over who made the ultimate decision to cancel them.

The decision has been much criticized by Republicans who say it should remain open to the public and some visitors who were planning to see inside the White House during the spring break travel season.

Obama said in an interview with ABC News aired Wednesday that the decision to cancel the tours following budget cuts was made by the Secret Service, citing the need to furlough some employees.

That seemed to contradict his spokesman, Jay Carney, who said last week that the Secret Service presented the White House with options for cuts including canceling tours.

White House spokesman Clark Stevens said Obama was referring to the point that the Secret Service determined it could not staff the tours without forcing additional agents to take time off without pay.


Obama said he’s checking with the Secret Service to see if there is a way to ease the policy.

— Associated Press

Man who made ‘47%’ video struggled over releasing it

The bartender working the private fundraiser where Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made his comments about ‘‘47 percent’’ of Americans said he didn’t make the secret recording as a political partisan.

In his first public interview, Scott Prouty told MSNBC’s Ed Schultz that he lost sleep and struggled for weeks before deciding to release the recording to the magazine Mother Jones. But Prouty says he thought it was important that people heard Romney and knew what he was really thinking.

In the video, Romney tells donors paying $50,000 apiece that 47 percent of Americans are dependent on government, see themselves as victims, and believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.

— Associated Press

Obama nominates new ambassador to Libya

WASHINGTON — The president nominated an ambassador to Libya on Wednesday, filling a post vacant since J. Christopher Stevens was killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi.

To replace Stevens, the White House tapped Deborah K. Jones, a career diplomat who has served in Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and the now-shuttered US Embassy in Syria. Jones currently works as a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington.

— Associated Press