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Richard N.
Democrat MA 1

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  • Preserving the Welfare Work Requirement and Tanf Extension Act of 2013

    by Representative Richard E. Neal

    Posted on 2013-03-13

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    NEAL. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Levin.

    Well, we're at it again. There is no greater misuse of time than re- fighting the last election. The last election is just that: the last election. It's over.

    Governor Romney's pollster said at the time, ``We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers,'' after it was pointed out that there were so many mistakes and miscalculations in their proposal.

    They might not have cared about the facts, but today I do. I chaired the Democratic position with Lynn Woolsey and Vic Fazio at the behest of Dick Gephardt at the time. One of the goals of welfare reform was to move unemployed Americans from welfare to work, and it did work. The legislation has been very successful in meeting that goal.

    {time} 1600 Welfare reform put people back on the work rolls. Welfare rolls have dropped by half, and poverty amongst children has dropped as well. The administration's TANF waiver initiative continues on this success of promoting welfare to work. It is ludicrous for our Republican friends to try to get in the way of people working by their stopping this waiver initiative--an initiative, by the way, that the Republican Governors asked for. Bill Weld was a very successful Governor of Massachusetts on the issue of welfare reform. He wanted the waiver. He asked for the waiver, as did George Pataki of New York. They asked for the waivers, Republican Governors.

    The President is not dropping welfare's work requirements. He is allowing the States to experiment. You would think our Republican friends would be entirely in favor of letting Governors experiment on getting people back to work fairly quickly. Secretary Sebelius has stated that the Department's goal is to accelerate job placement, requiring States to commit to a plan that will move at least 20 percent more people from welfare to work compared to the last marker of the State's performance. Let me repeat: a 20 percent increase in getting people on welfare to work from the last marker.

    I must be missing something here. I sat through months and months and months of deliberation. We reached a compromise. Some of us were disappointed in parts of it, but the Clinton administration signed on. It worked. Those are the facts, not opinions.

    Mr. CAMP. At this time, I yield 2 minutes to a distinguished member of the Ways and Means Committee, the gentleman from Arkansas (Mr. Griffin).

    Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 890, to prevent the administration from gutting critical TANF work requirements which have been central to TANF's success over the past two decades.

    President Clinton shared the belief that welfare reform should be about moving people from welfare to work, and the 1996 bipartisan welfare reform law he signed promoted work as central to these reforms. The TANF program's statutory work requirements have reduced poverty and welfare dependence for the program's recipients. Since the enactment of the 1996 welfare reform law with its work requirements, the number of individuals receiving welfare has dropped by 57 percent, and employment and earnings among single mothers has increased significantly.

    In my home State of Arkansas, TANF success stories are based on the core work requirements. We've got the story of Suzette. When she started participating in Arkansas' Work Pays program, she was a single parent without child care or transportation. With TANF assistance and support from her caseworker, within 6 months, she was promoted to shift manager at McDonald's and then on to a career at Tyson Foods. Now Suzette is providing child care and transportation herself, and her self-sufficiency was made possible through this program's key work requirements. This success story is exactly why Arkansas has not requested a waiver from the work requirements. In fact, no State has requested a waiver.

    The administration's unprecedented action of pushing the waiver idea is a fundamental unwinding of years of progress made toward work as the cornerstone of moving people from poverty to self-sufficiency. We must uphold TANF's statutory work requirements and protect Congress' constitutional authority to legislate. I encourage my colleagues to support H.R. 890.

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