Mike Pence says Trump’s next step is welfare reform – finally

Now that the major tax cuts have been signed into law for the first time in 31 years, the Trump administration is setting its sights on other matters — including welfare reform.

Echoing President Donald Trump’s announcement last month that he intends to put his own stamp on the welfare system, Vice President Mike Pence told CBS News on Thursday that the administration would “vigorously” tackle that issue in 2018.

He added that the administration also intends to address the country’s ailing infrastructure.

Surprise Visit

Pence spoke to CBS News’ Margaret Brennan in an exclusive interview during the vice president’s unannounced trip to visit troops in Afghanistan.

“To see the Congress of the United States come together, pass the largest tax cut in American history was deeply inspiring to me,” Pence said of the Tax Cuts and Reform Act, which the Senate approved 51-48 on Tuesday, and the House re-approved the following day.

The tax reform package was the third and final leg of Trump’s economic recovery plan, which included shrinking the size of government and reducing the stranglehold of regulations.

But they’re not stopping there. Now, Pence says, the administration is turning their sights elsewhere:

 You’re going to see this administration move on vigorously to an agenda which will include infrastructure and welfare reform.

Trump indicated in October that as the nation’s welfare stands now, “people are taking advantage of the system.” He said that welfare overhaul is “desperately needed in our country,” and the administration has already been hard at work on the issue.

“The groundwork [for welfare reform] has already begun at the White House and Trump has made his interest known to Republican lawmakers,” reports The Associated Press.

Other Issues

In addition to the overhaul of the welfare system, Trump has also made infrastructure the forefront of his 2018 plan. The president suggested a $1 trillion package to rebuild aging roads and bridges during his campaign in 2016, and recently remarked that the issue of infrastructure may be a good way to find common ground with Democratic lawmakers, none of whom voted for the recently-passed tax bill.

“At some point, and for the good of the country, I predict we will start working with the Democrats in a Bipartisan fashion,” Trump tweeted on Friday. “Infrastructure would be a perfect place to start. After having foolishly spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is time to start rebuilding our country!”

Additionally, Pence told CBS that the Trump administration’s 2018 goals for Afghanistan include improved relations with the war-torn country.

 “The president made it clear that we’re going to stay in this fight for our security and to achieve a victory here in Afghanistan, but he asked me to develop a relationship with President Ghani,” who he speaks to “at least once a month,” the vice president said. He added:

I met with President Ghani today… Heard about the parliamentary elections that we’re supporting and encouraging next year, the presidential elections. He told me that they’re moving forward with their election commission and the plans are on track for parliamentary elections next year, presidential elections in 2019.

But it isn’t infrastructure rebuilding or Afghanistan relations that will have welfare abusers worried in the new year: it’s the reform of the system that will show those who are taking advantage of government aid that it’s time to get back to work.

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