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Public Statements

International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BERG. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise today with my colleague, Mr. Doggett of Texas, and other members of the Human Resources Subcommittee of the Committee on Ways and Means. I urge support for House Resolution 4282, as amended, the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2012.

This bill provides the implementing legislation for the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. Negotiation of this treaty began in 2003, and it was eventually signed in 2007. The Senate then provided its consent in 2010. Now States cannot take advantage of the benefits of this treaty until Congress moves forward.

Currently, States have the option to recognize child support orders from other countries and many of them do. However, States have found that other countries are less cooperative in recognizing our orders.

The Hague Convention seeks to address this issue by establishing a standardized process so more countries cooperate in the collection of child support. This will ensure that children in the United States have the same access to financial support even when one of their parents is abroad.

This bill is about empowering the States, which operate the child support enforcement program, to do more for families and, most importantly, for children.

My home State of North Dakota has already made the necessary changes to its State law to accept the Hague Convention. Unfortunately, we are one of only 10 States that have done so. The United States cannot ratify the Hague Convention until all States make the necessary changes, so now is the time to act.

On March 20, the Human Resources Subcommittee of the Committee on Ways and Means had a hearing on this issue and heard that States are waiting to follow our lead. It's time for this Chamber to do its job and pass this bill, which will improve the program while resulting in modest savings.

This bill also includes the continuation of our subcommittee's bipartisan efforts to standardize the process and data, and improve the exchange of data within and across human services programs. While the child support system already relies heavily on data exchanges, it's important for those efforts to be consistent with provisions we have recently enacted in child welfare, TANF, and unemployment programs. The goal is simple: improve government's efficiency; provide benefits to those who are eligible; and drive out waste, fraud, and abuse.

Finally, this bill expands researcher's access to a database maintained by the Office of Child Support Enforcement. The National Directory of New Hires, NDNH, captures employment information for individuals working in most jobs in the United States. Expanding access to earning data in the NDNH will improve our ability to determine whether Federal education, training, and social service programs help people find and keep jobs.

According to the administration, most Federal agencies do not currently have reliable access to data that can show the impact of their programs on a participant's employment and earnings. In an era of tighter resources, it's critical that we have reliable data to conduct rigorous evaluations and make sure that Federal investments are getting results.

The National Child Support Enforcement Association represents the views of State agency child support directors and actively participated in the negotiations of the Hague Convention.

I would like to thank Congressman Geoff Davis, the chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources. I would also like to thank the subcommittee's ranking member, Mr. Doggett, who joins me on the floor today, as well as other members of the subcommittee for their support and original cosponsorship.

I invite all Members to join us in supporting this important bipartisan legislation. It will move us a step closer to ratifying the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and ensuring that more children living in the United States receive the financial support they deserve.

I urge all my colleagues to support it and reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. BERG. Again, this legislation will help families, and most importantly, children--help them receive the financial services they need, regardless of where they live or where their parents live. I appreciate the comments of our subcommittee ranking member who has joined me here today on the floor in support of this bill, and I look forward to continuing to work with him as we improve the child support enforcement program.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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