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Disapproving Rule Relating to Waiver and Expenditure Authority with Respect to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROE of Tennessee. I thank the chairman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.J. Res. 118. This resolution will express Congress's disapproval of the Obama administration's attempt at weakening bipartisan welfare reform and prevent the administration from implementing their plan to waive the work requirements of the current law.

Sixteen years ago, a Republican-led Congress worked with President Clinton to fix a broken welfare system, a bipartisan law that resulted in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant. Our ranking member said there is about a 20 percent requirement to increase work, and I think that's a great idea. But how do you define work?

Well, the GAO in 2005 issued a report that said some States counted work as such activities as bed rest, personal care, massage, exercise, journaling, motivational reading, smoking cessation, weight-loss promotion, helping a friend with a household task or running errands.

That makes a mockery of work, and that doesn't pass the laugh test. Independents, Democrats, and Republicans in our area of the country know what work is, and that isn't it.

Since then, since the passage of the law, a number of individuals have dropped off the welfare, a 57 percent decrease. The poverty level among single women dropped by 30 percent while their income and earnings increased. More than 80 percent of the people in this country support work requirements in the welfare reform bill, and this legislation ensures that the hard work of the 104th Congress and President Clinton isn't weakened by the Obama administration.

Let me speak to my friend, Mr. Andrews, for just a moment. It's a great idea to hire teachers and firefighters. I've done that as a mayor of a city of 60,000 people. Democrats have it just backwards. What you do is you create a work environment with decreased regulations and decreased government interference where the private sector can go out and create the jobs that create the taxes that pay for all of these services that we want.

That's what we did. It works, and that's a very basic difference in philosophy.


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