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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I rise in support of the reauthorization of the TANF Supplemental Grant program. Today Senator ROCKEFELLER and I introduced legislation that would reauthorize these grants and more accurately ensure that the dollars spent on this program are directed to poor children in the States that need it most.

I am committed to ensuring that Federal dollars spent on welfare services and benefits are spent efficiently and provided to our citizens in a way that encourages self-sufficiency. In South Carolina, I am pleased that our Department of Social Services continues to work toward that end. Currently, less than half of States' TANF block grants are spent on welfare checks, and the majority of funding is spent on moving welfare recipients into the workforce. More and more States are using TANF dollars to help beneficiaries purchase services such as childcare, transportation and job training.

However, the neediest States continue to struggle to provide welfare-to-work services to poor families with children. South Carolina can only afford to spend 29 percent of the national average per poor child on TANF services compared to some States that spend well over the national average. It is important that this discrepancy be addressed.

The TANF Supplemental Grant program was created in 1996 to provide additional assistance to States that spend less money per poor person on TANF services. However, many States, like South Carolina, spend well below the national average and do not qualify for this assistance. To date, South Carolina has the lowest spending per poor person of any State in the country that does not receive a supplemental grant. Many States that do receive supplemental grants spend more than twice the TANF funds per poor person than South Carolina.

The Supplemental Grant program will expire on September 30, 2008. Reauthorizing this program is an opportunity to provide assistance, based on updated statistics, to States, like South Carolina, that cannot afford to spend the national average per poor child on TANF services. Especially during economically challenging times, providing this assistance to States can help our neediest families with children to get back on their feet and back to work.

In working to pass this legislation, I look forward to collaborating with the Senate Finance Committee and Senator ROCKEFELLER on identifying an appropriate mechanism to offset the costs of this proposal. I am hopeful that the Senate will consider this legislation in a timely manner.

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