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Welfare Program Is GOP’s First YouCut Target

Updated: 9:05 p.m.

Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) announced Tuesday that a $2.5 billion welfare program will be the first project marked for elimination through the House Republican YouCut initiative.

The welfare emergency fund won the first YouCut poll with 29.07 percent of the online vote, edging out four other government programs that Republicans identified as “wasteful.”

House Republicans plan to call for an up-or-down vote Thursday on the House floor to nix the program.

“Not only is the new program unaffordable and duplicative, it undercuts welfare reforms made in the mid-1990s that saved taxpayers billions of dollars,” Cantor said in a statement.

The welfare emergency fund, created by the $787 billion stimulus bill, provided states with new federal funds in 2009 and 2010 “if they increase welfare caseloads, among other outcomes,” according to a release from Cantor’s office.

Cantor said more than 280,000 votes were cast since the YouCut website launched last week.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) said the $5 billion program — half of which has already been spent — qualified for the YouCut initiative because the money was being misused.

“Congress will now have the opportunity to vote this week to restore welfare reform by refocusing temporary assistance on helping people get back on their feet as quickly as possible rather than simply expanding dependence on government,” Price said in a statement. “I hope Democrats will listen to this incredible outpouring of support and join with Republicans and the American people to restore welfare reform.”

Democrats have not responded to YouCut other than to poke fun at it, and Republicans likely will have to engage in procedural maneuvers on unrelated legislation to get a vote on any YouCut initiatives.

Doug Thornell, a spokesman for Assistant to the Speaker Chris Van Hollen (Md.), said Democrats were not surprised that Republicans would target a program that helps job creation.

“This announcement shouldn’t be surprising since Cantor and Republicans have been voting against creating jobs for the past year and half,” Thornell said. “The GOP leadership drove the economy into a ditch, voted for Bush’s massive bailout of Wall Street banks and now all they are doing to help clean up the mess is putting forward reckless gimmicks that will cost thousands of jobs.”

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