Family Support Act, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, welfare reform, welfare policy, Reagan Administration


The enactment of the Family Support Act was the outcome of a six-year legislative and administrative review of, and debate about, welfare policy and programs. Heralded as the opportunity of the century, it did little, however, to alter existing policy. This article examines the evolution of the Family Support Act within the United States Congress, spotlighting two important time periods leading up to its enactment: 1981 to 1985 and 1986 to 1988. Original documentsfroin the files of the late Senator Moynihan, legislative sponsor of the Family Support Act, as well as a comprehensive investigation of Congressional records of hearings and debates, media editorials and commentaries, and extensive Congressional interviews form the basis for this analysis which vividly illustrates the politics of welfare policy-making in the United States. It concludes with observations about the policy implications of the Family Support Act and offers insight into how its passage paved the wayfor the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

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