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Public Statements

Helping Mothers And Children

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Madam President, I rise today to talk about a bill that I will be introducing called the Elimination of the Single Parent Tax Act.

When I came to the Senate, I reflected often on some of the work I did in the House. As a Congresswoman, I spent a lot of time in my community doing ``Congress on York corner.'' I would go to a local book shop or a senior center or a grocery store and meet with folks and listen to their concerns. I would try very hard to turn those concerns into legislative ideas.

One of the last ones I did as a House Member was in Warren County. A woman said to me:

Congresswoman, I received a bill from the Federal Government and I need you to do something about it.

She was very visibly upset. She also said to me:

This is a bill for $25. I am a single mom and I earn about $20,000 a year. I have 3 boys. The Federal Government is billing me because I receive child support. I cannot handle another bill, and while $25 may not seem like a lot to you, it is to me, because $25 is what I spend for my boys for lunch for a week. Please do something about this.

I looked into the issue, and I found out it was part of the Bush administration's Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. It occurred to me, why in the world are we trying to balance the Federal budget on the backs of single parents, particularly those who need that money to provide for their kids? On average, 30 percent of the income that single parents receive is from their child support. So it goes a long way to providing basic needs for their kids, whether it is for diapers, baby formula, food, education, or health care. So I wrote this bill to address this problem. I think it should not be paid by the single parents, or the States, and that, in fact, the overhead should be covered.

This penalty raises only $65 million per year. That is a cost I think we should include as we begin to look at the Deficit Reduction Act this year.

Interestingly enough, in the Deficit Reduction Act, under the Bush administration, they also cut more than $4 billion of incentive payments the Federal Government had made to States to help encourage them to improve child support programs.

This funding is crucial to how our single parents provide for their kids.

As we begin to look at Mother's Day, which is right around the corner and it is a time when we all reflect on how much our mothers have done for us and how much we love them, I think we as Federal legislators should do what we can do to protect our mothers and to stand up for them and help them take care of their kids.

If we can pass this bill, it will make a difference for many families in New York State. There are more than 200,000 families who are affected by this tax. For example, over 13,000 single parents in western New York; over 14,000 single parents in Rochester and the Finger Lakes region; over 11,000 single parents in central New York; over 8,000 single parents in the southern tier; over 18,000 single parents in the capital region; over 7,000 single parents in the north country; and over 25,000 single parents in the Hudson Valley.

Right now there are 27 States across the country that are charging this single parent penalty tax. This could make a difference all across our great Nation.

I am going to work very hard with the Finance Committee chairman to strike this fee from the Deficit Reduction Act when it is reviewed by the committee in the coming months.

As we reflect on Mother's Day, we have to do our part to make a difference for our mothers. One other issue that is near and dear to my heart that will make a difference for our moms is the Paycheck Fairness Act. If we look at the statistics, it is pretty unbelievable. For every dollar a man earns, a woman earns only 78 cents. If you are a woman of color, it is even worse. If you are an African-American woman, you will earn 62 cents. If you are Latino, you will earn 53 cents. That is unacceptable and unfair because when women earn more money, they can bring more money home to their families and better provide for their kids. All the statistics show when women earn their fair share, children have better access to education, health care, and opportunities.

As we celebrate Mother's Day, let's do something for our mothers and fight for them so they can protect and provide for their children.

Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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