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Preserving the Welfare Work Requirement and TANF Extension Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. THOMPSON of California. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Levin. I rise in opposition to this bill today.

The underlying premise of this bill has been roundly and routinely denounced by fact checkers. This bill is at best a solution looking for a problem. In 1997, I carried legislation in California to implement the Federal Government's welfare reform. It was the California welfare reform measure. We took our work seriously, and we took the work requirements in the Federal legislation seriously in California, and we worked across the aisle to adopt practical welfare reform. My bill was signed by the Republican Governor at the time, Governor Pete Wilson, and it's still being followed by the Democratic Governor of California today, Governor Jerry Brown.

Welfare reform in California has contributed to substantial increases in the employment of very low-income earners and markedly helped families in California move from welfare to work. Fifteen years later, the program caseload in California is roughly 60 percent of what it was in 1998, even in the face of this Great Recession that we're coming through.

Waivers can be an important tool to allow States the flexibility to run Federal programs in the most efficient and effective way, a tool used to move people from welfare to work, and it shouldn't fall the victim of politics. Every State is different--we hear that on this floor all the time. States should have the flexibility to do what they need to do in order to effectively and efficiently move people from welfare to work, and that's what this provision does.

And the idea that we're standing here today debating this, whether or not it should be expunged from the Federal tool chest, is purely politics, and it should not happen. I urge a ``no'' vote.


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