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Public Statements

Preserving the Welfare Work Requirement and TANF Extension Act of 2013

Floor Speech

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Location: Unknown

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Mr. REICHERT. I thank the gentleman for yielding time.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the bill before us today because Congress must ensure that work continues to be the centerpiece of the TANF welfare program, and I regret that we are here today debating the Obama administration's efforts to undermine work requirements.

I think that my Democrat colleagues would agree that our time would be better spent discussing bipartisan improvements to TANF and other programs designed to help low-income parents find and go to work. I look forward to having those discussions and conversations as the chairman of the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, bipartisan discussions were actually happening before the Obama administration announced they would waive work requirements for welfare recipients last summer. That announcement completely undermined bipartisan negotiations in our committee about ways to strengthen this program. Incredibly, administration officials knew about those negotiations and even had a draft of bipartisan legislation in hand before they announced their misguided waiver policy.

Usually, if an administration wants to change the law, they must submit a legislative proposal for Congress to consider, but that's not what the Obama administration did with its proposal to waive the TANF work requirements.

Even though the administration had said repeatedly in their annual budget they would work with Congress to reform welfare, they didn't propose any changes to the program. Instead, they simply claimed they could waive the current work requirements at the heart of welfare reform without even notifying Congress.

Mr. Speaker, I'm surprised that the administration would proceed with its waiver policy, especially knowing that real bipartisan progress was being made.

The truth is, Mr. Speaker, the President's waiver policy increases spending by $61 million, according to CBO. There are currently 240 combinations of work, education, and training requirements falling under the 12 definitions included in this law. The administration does not have the authority to waive work requirements; that authority is not granted under the law. Therefore--this is very important--the misuse of authority is subject to congressional review and disapproval. That's why we are here today. This is Congress' responsibility, and we were working together with the White House, which is also our responsibility.

Today I'm standing here asking my colleagues across the aisle and on my side of the aisle to support this bill and reject the administration's waiver proposal. That way we can get back to working together to close loopholes, strengthen work requirements and ensure that more welfare recipients go back to work and move up the economic ladder.

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