August 1, 1997 - Issue: Vol. 143, No. 112 — Daily Edition105th Congress (1997 - 1998) - 1st Session
WELFARE TO WORK
(Extensions of Remarks - August 01, 1997)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Pages E1604-E1605] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] WELFARE TO WORK ______ HON. STEVE LARGENT of oklahoma in the house of representatives Thursday, July 31, 1997 Mr. LARGENT. Mr. Speaker, last year Congress passed historic welfare reform legislation, establishing a program which combines social responsibility with economic opportunity. By setting work requirements and offering incentives to employers hiring workers from the welfare rolls, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996, provides the help needed to lift individuals out of poverty and off the welfare rolls. While the average stay on welfare is only 2 years, the typical recipient at any one time has been receiving benefits for 8 years. The Welfare Reform Act, by setting a 5-year maximum time limit for receiving welfare payments, will end long-term abuse of the welfare system, [[Page E1605]] transforming aid to families with dependent children [AFDC] into a truly transitional welfare to work program. The act enables welfare recipients to gain the job skills and experience necessary to compete in the work force. By passing the welfare program as a block grant, Congress has given Oklahoma the flexibility to tailor our programs to the needs of Oklahomans. States must meet strict work requirements, ensuring that an increasing percentage of beneficiaries leave the welfare rolls each year, or face a reduction in Federal funding. At the same time, a safety net is provided for States during periods of economic hardship, allowing exemptions for bulging caseloads and a 20-percent hardship exemption for extreme cases. I am sad to see that the current budget bill reverses many of the reforms made in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. I hope to work with my colleagues in the future to restore the original intent of the welfare reforms passed last year. ____________________