Federal Assistance Programs:
On Thursday, as Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Income Security and Family Support Subcommittee, I presided over a hearing to discuss the effectiveness of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program in assisting struggling Americans. In their testimonies, witnesses emphasized that welfare caseloads had not increased enough and that more Federal spending should be devoted to cash welfare and other assistance. Given that the United States will spend $953 billion on job training, child care, transportation subsidies and other welfare programs next year, I asked Carmen Nazario of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who administers TANF, Medicaid, and other social services how much would be required to achieve success in this realm. Please click here to watch a video of the exchange: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iXJqaHeR3M
The House unanimously passed legislation that will allow individuals who make charitable contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Chile to claim these donations on their 2009 return. This means that individuals will more quickly realize the income tax benefits of their generosity and not have to wait until their 2010 tax return to claim their charitable deduction. I am hopeful that the Senate will follow suit and provide this benefit to taxpayers who made qualifying contributions. To view the text of this legislation, please click here.
On March 10, the Congress held a special ceremony in the U.S. Capitol to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II. The WASP were the first women in history to fly America's military aircraft, flying over 60 million miles in every type of aircraft and on every type of mission flown by Army Air Force male pilots, except direct combat missions. This group of pilots was never considered an official part of the Air Force, and didn't receive any type of commissioning, rank, or military benefits. General Hap Arnold, then Chief of Army Air Forces, tried to gain military status for them, but in the interest of time, it was not pursued right away. Upon victory, the group was disbanded and the women were sent home. They received no recognition, honors or benefits for their exemplary service record. Through their actions, Women Air Force Service Pilots were a catalyst for revolutionary reform of the integration of women pilots into the U.S. Armed Services. Of the 1,102 women who received their WASP wings, approximately 300 are living throughout America. H.R. 2014, signed into law as Public Law 111-40, authorized the Congressional Gold Medal be given to this extraordinary group of women. As a co-sponsor of that bill, I was pleased to join my colleagues in honoring them for their contributions to our nation. To view the text of this legislation click here.
My new documentary screening on the future of water policy has been rescheduled for this summer. The film, Running Dry: Beyond the Brink, highlights the state of our water resources in the SE and SW regions of the United States and what we can do to provide solutions to the growing problems. The Water Caucus will host an event in the U.S. Capitol Auditorium on June 16 at 6 p.m. that will feature this documentary. For additional information about the documentary and event please visit the following links: http://www.runningdry.org/world.html and http://aquadoc.typepad.com/waterwired/2010/03/dc-water-events-rescheduled-for-1617-june-2010-.html.