Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today on the misleading Republican bill brought to the House Floor today addressing waivers to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF):
“This legislation exemplifies this Do-Nothing Republican Congress. Once again, Republicans are choosing to focus on a political messaging bill over serious issues like jobs, middle-class tax cuts, or a farm bill. Instead, the House is wasting time on a Republican bill that misrepresents the facts in an attempt to score political points.
“I supported the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in 1996 because I believe those who end up in difficult circumstances need a temporary hand up to help them get a job, not a permanent hand out. The program has worked, and welfare rolls have been more than halved since 1996. However, as we recover from the worst economy since the great depression, jobs are harder to find. We need to redouble our efforts to help people move from welfare to work. And that’s exactly what the Obama Administration did in July when it responded to the request of governors who wanted greater flexibility to get people into jobs.
“Contrary to what my Republican friends across the aisle would have Americans believe, the purpose of this waiver is not to decrease the number of people working, but to increase it. In fact, it provides exactly the sort of flexibility for states Republicans have supported time after time – until now. In 2002, 2003, and 2005, during the Bush Administration, Republicans passed legislation that would have allowed waivers of TANF work requirements. Speaker Boehner, Chairman Camp, and Chairman Ryan all voted for that waiver policy all three times. And in 2005 twenty-nine Republican governors, including then-governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, asked for greater waiver authority.
“Let’s recognize what this bill really is – a political messaging tool that will do the opposite of what it claims to do by preventing reform. I urge Republicans to stop using Congress’s last hours in session before the election as a platform for partisan messaging and instead focus on what really matters – staying here and enacting policies that will put Americans back to work.”