Following a lengthy and protracted debate, the 100th U.S. Congress passed PL 100-485, the Family Security Act of 1988, the first major public assistance legislative reform package since passage of the Social Security Act of the late 1930s. The debate over welfare is a long and continuing one which is not expected to end with the current reform. This article presents a brief review of competing perspectives on current legislative reforms related to current law. It does not attempt to tackle the more fundamental debate over the validity or the objectives of welfare, nor does it tackle the complex set of issues related to income distribution. Many forces framed congressional debate during the past decade. Pressures were strong for change under the Reagan Administration and a conservative debate ensued. These pressures will be reviewed here in three parts: first, a brief overview of Senate and House legislative proposals of the 100th Congress; second, an analysis of changes in the final Conference Bill, comparing its provisions with current law; finally, a review of the Bill’s most controversial aspects in the context of future debate.


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