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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. CHABOT. Madam Chairman, the section 8 program is a program I believe is in serious need of fundamental reforms, not more money.

Two weeks ago, the House debated H.R. 1851, the so-called Section 8 Voucher Reform Act. But rather than making the program more effective for the individuals who use it and more accountable to the taxpayers who fund it, the bill will create 100,000 more vouchers at a cost of $2.4 billion over the next 5 years.

I offered several amendments to strengthen the bill and bring about some much-needed responsibility to the program, to add, for example, work requirements and time limits and to stop the creation of new vouchers. Unfortunately, those amendments were voted down. And now 2 weeks later, we find ourselves considering a bill that would reward this flawed program by increasing its funding by hundreds of millions of dollars.

When we committed ourselves sometime ago to welfare reform, it was with the understanding that the program should no longer be a tax-funded handout but should instead offer people a way out of poverty, helping them obtain job and education skills they needed to become self-sufficient. Ending welfare cycle of dependencies have cut the welfare rolls in half, promoted individual responsibility, and saved billions of tax dollars in the process. Sadly, current housing programs closely resemble the failed welfare policies of the past.

Like the old welfare programs, the section 8 housing program discourages work and allows people to stay on the program indefinitely. It is also too often mismanaged by local governments or housing authorities.

I represent most of the city of Cincinnati, its western suburbs and few townships in Butler County, Ohio. Too many neighborhoods in my district have had to witness the crime, despair, and hopelessness that are inherent in a government program that asks virtually nothing of the recipients and that encourages dependency rather than responsibility and waste rather than work.

Whether it is the funding provided by the Federal Government or mismanagement of the program by local governments and agencies, section 8 has failed those who use it and those who pay for it: the American taxpayers.

It is also important to point out that the dependency that section 8 has created is so great that there are long waiting lists to get vouchers. Why? Because too many of those who gain access to the program don't leave. They don't really have an incentive to. The average stay is about 7 years.

Madam Chairman, this is a very modest, straightforward amendment. My amendment would simply reduce section 8 vouchers, the funding, by $330 million to bring it in line with the administration's budget request. This bill would spend $16.3 billion on vouchers, asking virtually nothing of its recipients.

On behalf of the American taxpayers, I don't think it is asking too much of this Congress to settle for a smaller increase to a program that spends far too much with too little accountability.

Madam Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.


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