The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has a General Counsel and legal staff to ensure that the agency’s actions are lawful. Did they take the day off last Thursday?

We have to question whether the department lawyers were consulted at all about the “Information Memorandum” issued by HHS last Thursday that invites states to come up with creative excuses (aka “demonstration projects”) to suspend the work requirements in the welfare reform law.

Given the clear, unambiguous, and binding legal prohibition for that type of waiver, if they were consulted, the lawyers involved were embarrassingly careless in approving language that is in direct violation of federal law. Because there is no legal basis for permitting the waivers at issue, HHS needs to follow the law and withdraw the illegal Memorandum.

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