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Preserving the Welfare Work Requirement and TANF Extension Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Unknown


Mr. YOUNG of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, we spend a lot of time in this body talking about the need to be bipartisan. People rightly feel, I think, that
things get too polarized around here. I think back to the mid-nineties when Republicans controlled the House. We had a Democrat President, and people back then thought things were a bit too polarized as well. Yet in the midst of that atmosphere, Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich came up with landmark legislation to reform our welfare programs, and they did so in a bipartisan fashion.

One of the keys to the success of those reforms were the work requirement provisions that led to more jobs, bigger paychecks, and fewer people in poverty, children in particular. As President Clinton said at the time:

First and foremost, welfare reform should be about moving people from welfare to work.

As further proof that this is not a partisan issue, Republican or Democrat, I look to my own State of Indiana. Before the 1996 welfare reform law was passed, then-Governor Bayh, a Democrat, created similar work requirements for Hoosiers who received certain government benefits. Not only did Indiana's reforms ensure that those who needed assistance were able to receive it, but it also helped ensure that they were quickly back to taking care of themselves.

As Mr. Bayh later said:

The bottom line was trying to make someone self-sufficient. We were trying to achieve two values--one was the notion of community, and also responsibility.

Indiana's welfare-to-work initiative was a very successful program that remains a hallmark of his governorship.

With bipartisan consensus on this issue, and for all the talk in Washington about the need to be bipartisan, work across the aisle, it amazes me that HHS would unilaterally try and waive these work provisions. The welfare reform of the 1990s lifted millions out of poverty and put them on a path to self-sufficiency. It was a signature bill for bipartisanship in this town. Let's not undue these positive results by allowing HHS to gut key provisions of this bill.


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