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Public Statements

Preserving the Welfare Work Requirement and TANF Extension Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 890 and preserving one of the most significant and successful Federal reform initiatives in the last 20 years.

Seventeen years ago, a Republican-led Congress worked with President Clinton to fix a broken welfare system. The bipartisan law that resulted established the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant program. This law also required individuals to work, prepare for work, or look for work as a condition of receiving public assistance.

In the years following passage, the number of individuals receiving welfare dropped by a whopping 57 percent. The poverty level among single mothers fell by 30 percent, and I saw this in my practice as an OB-GYN physician. No question that it worked.

And this is while their income and earnings increased significantly. Poverty levels among young African Americans dropped to its lowest level in 2001. Last July, the Department of Health and Human Services issued an unprecedented guidance indicating that it would allow States to waive welfare work requirements. The law and the historical record are clear: the administration does not have this power.

But if there's any confusion, H.R. 890 will dispel it. This commonsense bill would prohibit the Secretary of HHS from moving ahead with this illegal waiver plan. More than 80 percent of Americans support the work requirements included in welfare reform, and this legislation ensures the hard work of the 104th Congress and President Clinton isn't undone by this administration.

Mr. Speaker, we should celebrate work in this country. We should help those who are down on their luck find a job--something all the House will do later this week when it considers the SKILLS Act. And for those Americans who need help, we should offer it--but not as a permanent entitlement.

I commend Chairmen Camp, Kline, and Scalise, along with Mr. Southerland, for their leadership on this issue, and I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on this bill.

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