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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. ROSKAM. I thank the chairman.

I for the life of me don't understand why our friends on the other side of the aisle are defensive about this. This is nothing to defend. This is to say the White House made an error in engaging substantively in downgrading work requirements for welfare. And rather than being defensive about it, say, look, they messed up. Let's not defend them; let's make sure that they don't color outside the lines.

This is not some abstract thing, Mr. Speaker. There are very serious voices that have come out, and they've made this argument that the following things are work and should be included, Mr. Speaker, under the work definitions for welfare, things like: bed rest, personal care activities, massage, exercise, journaling, motivational reading, smoking cessation, weight-loss promotion, participation in parent/teacher meetings, and helping a friend or relative with household tasks or errands.

So there are some folks that are making the argument that if you go help your neighbor rake the lawn, then somehow that's work under the welfare-to-work requirement. This is not some abstract thing. This is not something that the GOP is looking for. This is a sense of clarity that most Americans said, look, we recognize that if people need help, they should get help, but not to be manipulated through absurd definitions that are coming from who knows where--some States with a straight face that actually want to manipulate this to their benefit.

This is an area where everybody should come together. This should pass with a voice vote. This is an admonition to the White House to say: don't do this; do not weaken these work requirements. Instead, make sure that they're fast and solid and that they move people to work. But don't subsidize massage therapy and pump a lot of sunshine and tell hardworking Americans that that's work because it's not.

Let's do the right thing. Let's pass this quickly.


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