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Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, today the Senate will vote on H.J. Res. 117, a continuing resolution to fund Federal agencies for the next 6 months. While I appreciate that this measure avoids the need to negotiate a spending bill during the lame duck session, after careful consideration, I believe the promises I made to the people of Pennsylvania in 2010 compel me to oppose this bill.
H.J. Res. 117 establishes discretionary appropriations for fiscal year at $1.047 trillion, an amount equal to the spending cap created by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Unfortunately, this figure is far above what is fiscally responsible, which is one of the reasons I voted against the Budget Control Act last year. Given that the Federal Government has now run deficits in excess of $1 trillion for 4 consecutive years, it would be irresponsible to vote for a bill that increases discretionary spending by about $8 billion.
Furthermore, H.J. Res. 117 employs a tired old accounting gimmick called ``changes in mandatory spending programs'' to make discretionary spending appear nearly $20 billion lower. This gimmick does not eliminate mandatory spending; it only delays it, resulting in no actual budgetary savings.
The continuing resolution fails to restore recently undermined welfare-to-work provisions within the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families--TANF--Program. In 1996, a Republican led Congress and President Clinton enacted the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act--P.L. 104-193, a key component of which established work requirements, helping individuals provide for themselves and their families. On July 12, 2012, the administration unilaterally weakened reporting requirements for TANF, erroneously stipulating that waiver authority provided under section 1115 of the Social Security Act enabled the agency to modify work participation requirements, a provision explicitly outside the scope of waivable provisions. Welfare-to-work provisions have proven instrumental in transitioning millions off welfare. While TANF's work requirements have contributed towards declining welfare rolls, there remain additional opportunities to strengthen and reform the TANF program. By failing to engage in a dialogue, Congress missed a critical opportunity to restore the welfare-to-work requirements and assist more TANF recipients take steps towards independence.
Though I am unable to support this continuing resolution, I would note my support for one provision in the underlying legislation. I am happy that a technical correction was included that ensures that States that have not remediated all of their abandoned mine lands do not lose any payments from the Abandoned Mine Lands Trust Fund as a result of the recently enacted Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (Map-21). To pay for MAP-21, conferees inserted a provision intending to cap payments to States that have been certified by the EPA as having remediated all of their abandoned mine lands.
After enactment, there was some uncertainty about how this provision
would affect noncertified states like Pennsylvania because of the structure of the funding formula. This was clearly not the intent of Congress. The Congressional Budget Office scored the provision as capping payments to certified States only. Therefore, this technical correction ensures that Pennsylvania, the State with more abandoned mine lands than any other, continues to receive its baseline level of funding.
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