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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. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong opposition to the resolution of disapproval before us today. Yet again, the House is wasting valuable time considering a resolution that is not about good policy, or helping Americans get back to work, but about political games and rhetoric driven by half-truths.

In July of this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a memo outlining a program for the consideration of state proposals for alternative job placement performance measures for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients. This was in direct response to the requests from at least 29 states who wanted more flexibility on how they measured work participation among recipients. Many of these states requested a waiver so they could focus on more outcome-based measures, rather than job placement rates. The memo released by HHS outlines the conditions that must be met by a state to receive a waiver: a clear and detailed explanation of how the alternative proposal would increase employment by 20 percent, as well as show that there are clear, measurable goals for work placement.

However, my Republican colleagues would have you believe that the administration is gutting the work requirements under TANF. Not so. It should be obvious to any honest man who is not blind that this proposal does not waive the work requirements. In fact, it is the administration's effort to test more effective strategies for moving families from welfare to work while giving the states the flexibility to test which strategies they think will work best for their residents. As President Clinton said, ``The requirement was for more work, not less.''

We hear on the floor of this body, day in and day out, about how onerous federal reporting requirements are to the states, and how federal reporting requirements do not account for the unique needs of each of our states. Yet here the administration is directly responding to this request for flexibility and my colleagues run to the floor waving around a dead-on-arrival resolution of disapproval. In my experience, when the administration has heard your complaints and takes the steps necessary to address these complaints you claim victory.

As our economy has struggled so have American families. Many of these families have ended up on TANF through no fault of their own. These families are not looking for a hand-out from the federal government; they want a hand-up. The proposal put forth by HHS will help the states provide these families with a hand-up, while still retaining the integrity of welfare-to-work requirements under TANF.

I urge my colleagues to reject this baseless and nakedly political resolution. Let's do the business of the American people in an honest, thoughtful, and proper way. I would remind my Republican colleagues that you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. The facts are that the administration's proposal would increase work requirements and increase the ability of Americans to get back to work. And here my Republican colleagues are irresponsibly attempting to block that action. Shame.


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