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Tsongas Statement on Vote to Overturn President's Welfare Waiver


Location: Washington, DC

Yesterday, the House of Representative voted to approve H.J. Res. 118, a Republican resolution that overturns the Obama Administration proposal that provides states with flexibility to move more Americans from welfare to work. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas voted against the bill and issued the following statement.

"It is incumbent upon us to use every tool at our disposal to get Americans back to work. The waiver proposal by the Obama administration and the Department of Health and Human Services, which came about because of across-the-aisle collaboration with Republican governors, provided new, effective ways to move Americans from welfare to work.

I cannot emphasize enough the important direction President Obama's plan would guide welfare and job creation in this country. Since 1996, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program has required recipients of welfare aid to eventually acquire work. President Obama's plan would promote the objectives of TANF, giving more flexibility to states, allowing for them to examine and implement alternative and innovative ways to increase employment for needy families.

The proposal seeks to establish better avenues of communication with the workforce and education / training systems, as well as incorporating strategies to better serve individuals with disabilities. It brings more focus and support to getting Americans back to work, into sturdy jobs, reducing the need of aid and increasing employment.

By overturning the President's proposal, we take a step backwards on the path to job creation, when we have a chance to push forward. Instead of needlessly tinkering with effective programs, Congress needs to be focusing on collaborative solutions, like bolstering our manufacturing base, to create jobs and strengthening the economy.

Republicans prefaced this vote by claiming that the welfare waiver guts welfare reform. They are incorrect. Two Pulitzer-prize winning newspaper organizations debunked these Republican assertions, one of them labeling the GOP claim a "pants on fire' lie.

The waiver in fact requires more welfare recipients to get jobs and reinforces the standard requiring welfare recipients to remain active in their search for employment. The proposal did not eliminate work requirements but rather encouraged flexibility and creativity in the programs that states implement to put people on track for employment.

Simply put: President Obama's proposal encouraged employment.

While too many Americans are struggling to get a job, the Republican Leadership continues to deal in stall tactics that ignore impactful plans like the America Jobs Act, middle class tax cuts and a comprehensive deficit deal to prevent sequestration."

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