Political Rifts Over Bill Clinton’s Welfare Law Resurface as Aid Shrinks

With little debate, Arizona last year became the only state to impose a one-year limit on cash assistance to needy families, cutting the maximum duration of benefits for the third time since 2010. The newest limit has begun to hit home for welfare recipients who are learning that their benefits are nearing an end.

Anna Robinson, the mother of a 4-year-old boy, received cash assistance for about eight months in 2013, until she landed a job at a call center for a pet-supply retailer. Then her job was automated and her position was eliminated. She will receive about four months of cash payments before they dry up.

“I was really proud of myself when I got a job, but now I need help again,” Ms. Robinson said as she picked up a box of free groceries at St. Mary’s Food Bank in West Phoenix.

As the 20th anniversary of Bill Clinton’s welfare law approaches, the impact of its requirements is being felt more than ever, with the political rifts that it exposed in 1996 resurfacing on the 2016 campaign trail.

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