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DEMO VOWS QUICK ACTION ON WELFARE-REFORM PLAN

SHARE DEMO VOWS QUICK ACTION ON WELFARE-REFORM PLAN

The new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee promised Friday to move quickly on President Clinton's proposal to reform welfare by requiring recipients to go to work.

Rep. Sam Gibbons, the panel's acting chairman, told committee members and Clinton administration officials that he intends to send a welfare reform bill to the House floor this summer.A Republican lawmaker and congressional aide said Gibbons' decision to push welfare is a sign that he "wants to prove he can do a good job" and beat Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, who gave up the chairmanship after being indicted on charges of political corruption, "at his own game."

Another GOP aide suggested that Gibbons was seizing the issue with an eye toward embarrassing Republicans, who have criticized Clinton's $9.3 billion plan as timid and hopelessly weak, if they try to thwart the passage of welfare reform.

Gibbons' schedule for welfare reform is more ambitious than the White House anticipated. Clinton just announced his plan on Tuesday and has yet to send Congress a bill.

Administration aides acknowledge that their plan has little chance of passing Congress this year. Just Thursday, House Speaker Tom Foley told reporters that he was uncertain lawmakers could finish work on welfare legislation this year.

According to lawmakers who attended Friday's meeting with Gibbons, the Florida Democrat is ready to begin public hearings on welfare reform by mid-July.

The full Ways and Means Committee could take up the bill by the first of August, followed by passage in the House by mid-August or later.

Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn. and chairman of the subcommittee on human resources, said he would call 10 days of hearings on welfare reform next month. He said he would consider all of the competing welfare reform bills pending in Congress this election year - from the most conservative to the most liberal.

"My intent is to adhere to his (Gibbons') plan," said Ford.