Administration defends welfare-to-work waivers

The Obama administration is defending a plan to waive parts of the federal welfare-to-work law for states.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (seh-BEEL'-yuhs) says the goal is to cut red tape for states and for people seeking work. She says the waivers won't get in the way of moving welfare recipients into jobs.

Sebelius sent letters late Tuesday to Republican lawmakers who oppose the waiver plan. She wrote that states will have to promise to move at least 20 percent more people from welfare to work and show "clear progress" within a year.

The administration's proposal has ignited criticism from the political right. Opponents question the administration's legal authority to grant welfare waivers.

But Sebelius says GOP governors have long sought more flexibility from the administration.