- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 5, 2000

George F. Allen's welfare reforms, enacted during his term as governor of Virginia from 1994 to 1998, eventually became a blueprint for the welfare reforms later adopted on the federal level.

But Democratic Sen. Charles S. Robb, whom Mr. Allen is challenging this year, was a roadblock for welfare reform, Mr. Allen and a handful of Republican lawmakers said at a Capitol Hill news conference yesterday.

Mr. Robb's spokesman said that doesn't account for the eight times Mr. Robb voted for versions of welfare reform, including the final version that President Bill Clinton ended up signing into law.

The Allen campaign this week unleashed another television advertisement, touting Mr. Allen's record and blasting Mr. Robb's record on the issue. That's in addition to an ad the state Republican Party is running attacking Mr. Robb on welfare reform.

Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican and one of the architects of federal welfare reform, said Mr. Allen was one of the Republican governors that Congress turned to for a model.

"He was leading the charge, and as a result of that was ahead of the curve," Mr. Santorum said.

Welfare reform was one of the items in Republicans' 1994 "Contract With America." Mr. Clinton twice vetoed versions of the legislation, though, before finally signing a third version that he said included more safeguards.

Virginia's law, which still goes further than federal law, put pressure on mothers to name fathers of their children, stepped up child-support collections, required those able to work to find work and ended full benefits after two years.

He said the change has saved state taxpayers $450 million over five years.

"I think it's a vulnerable issue for my opponent in that he has once again shown how out of touch he is with the common sense and values of the people of Virginia, and what a willing cheerleader he has been for the Clinton administration in voting against welfare reform seven times," Mr. Allen said.

Mr. Allen said there were two votes when Mr. Robb opposed the whole bill, and five times he voted against requiring able-bodied people to work.

Mo Elleithee, Mr. Robb's campaign spokesman, said those attempts all went too far, and he said one of Mr. Robb's anti-reform votes was cast because then-Speaker Newt Gingrich had rewritten the bill in a way Mr. Robb couldn't accept.

"Senator Robb voted four straight times in 1995 to reform our welfare system, but when Newt Gingrich came up with a plan that would have thrown 1 to 2 million children into poverty, Senator Robb had to say no," Mr. Elleithee said.

In addition to the federal lawmakers, Mr. Allen was joined yesterday by Alexandria resident Linda Moore, 38, who left Virginia's welfare rolls in 1996 after six years, and now is a crew manager for a Domino's Pizza store in Crystal City.

She said she now can make more than twice what her welfare check used to bring her, and said she'll be voting for Mr. Allen this November.

Mr. Allen also challenged Mr. Robb's record on welfare as governor.

He said that when Mr. Robb left office, more than 150,000 Virginians were on the rolls, a number that had dropped to 105,000 by the time Mr. Allen left the governor's mansion.

Mr. Elleithee didn't dispute that, but said Mr. Robb was one of the first to call for federal welfare reform in the mid-1980s.

He said Mr. Robb's priorities during his administration were promoting job growth and funding education, even in the middle of the recession, and he called Mr. Allen's focus on welfare a diversion from the education issue in the current Senate race.

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