THE TANF REAUTHORIZATION
(Extensions of Remarks - May 16, 2002)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E819]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                        THE TANF REAUTHORIZATION

                                 ______
                                 

                        HON. ANIBAL ACEVEDO-VILA

                             of puerto rico

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, May 15, 2002

  Mr. ACEVEDO-VILA. Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the children and families 
of Puerto Rican and Hispanic families, I rise today to urge my 
colleagues to vote in favor of the Democratic proposal.
  The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has successfully implemented TANF. We 
have met all of the requirements of the Act. We have been successful in 
reducing our welfare rolls from 55,000 to 21,000.
  Puerto Rico has accomplished these goals in an environment of high 
unemployment. Our unemployment is double that of the mainland. Yet, we 
still met all of the requirements of TANF.
  The Democratic substitute continues to require Puerto Rico to meet 
all of the same mandates as the states. However, it authorizes Puerto 
Rico to have access to the same tools as the states. These programs 
include mandatory daycare funding, supplemental grants, and the 
contingency funds.
  If the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is expected to succeed in meeting 
the requirements of TANF, we need access to the same programs that 
states are provided. We are dedicated to moving families from welfare 
to work; we are dedicated to reducing our welfare rolls. In order to do 
so, we need the tools to implement these programs.
  Anything short of the Democratic substitute creates additional 
barriers limiting the ability of Puerto Rican and Hispanic families to 
make a successful transition from welfare to work.
  Mr. Speaker, I would also like to enter into the record a letter from 
the Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda endorsing the 
principles I have just outlined.
  Additionally, the National Conference of State Legislators, a Non-
partisan organization, recently acknowledged that the circumstances in 
Puerto Rico and the territories are unique and need to be addressed. 
Voting in favor of the Democratic substitute is a step in the right 
direction.
  Again, I urge my colleagues to vote for the Democratic substitute to 
insure that no families or children living under our flag are left 
without the necessary tools to end the cycle of poverty.

                                      National Hispanic Leadership


                                                       Agenda,

                                      Washington, DC, May 6, 2002.
     Hon. Tommy G. Thompson,
     Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Secretary Thompson: On behalf of the National Hispanic 
     Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of national Hispanic 
     civil rights and public policy organizations, I would like to 
     thank you for meeting with us today and for your expressed 
     interest in addressing funding disparities for federal 
     programs in Puerto Rico. Your support and leadership would 
     significantly assist us in our efforts to ensure the needy 
     families and children residing in Puerto Rico have equal 
     access to essential federal programs that are currently 
     underfunded.
       All U.S. citizens should have equal access to the tools 
     necessary to exit poverty as they move from welfare to work. 
     Child care, health care, and employment assistance are 
     critical supports that do not only ensure a successful 
     transition to self sufficiency, but also guarantee the 
     continued health and well-being of vulnerable families. 
     Regretfully, needy U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico do 
     not share in these benefits equitably.
       Welfare spending on the Island stands at $34.78 per poor 
     person compared to the national average of $533.97. With 
     funding limitations on federal child care programs, health 
     insurance programs such as Medicaid, SCHIP and Medicare, and 
     Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) the obstacles 
     to self-sufficiency are considerable in an economy that 
     already suffers from an unemployment rate that is twice the 
     national average and where the poverty rate is nearly 60 
     percent.
       Given these realities, NHLA believes that the following 
     changes are required to address funding disparities for 
     Puerto Rico:
       Removing barriers that exclude Puerto Rico from the TANF 
     Supplementary Grant program and once barriers are removed 
     exclude Supplementary Grants from the current TANF cap;
       Removing IV-E Foster Care from the TANF cap;
       Removing barriers that exclude Puerto Rico from the Child 
     Care and Development Fund--Mandatory Grant (93.596(a)) and 
     exclude from the cap the Child Care and Development Fund--
     Matching Grant (93.596(b));
       Reimbursing Puerto Rico for providing Transitional Medical 
     Assistance to TANF leavers outside the Medicaid cap imposed 
     on the Island.
       We urge you to support legislative proposals that will 
     address the current disparities in poverty assistance 
     programs, and ensure that critical health care and self-
     sufficiency programs are made available to the U.S. citizens 
     in Puerto Rico.
       Low-income families deserve to have the full commitment and 
     assistance of our federal government, if they are to succeed 
     in becoming self-sufficient--regardless of where they may 
     reside in America.
           Sincerely,
                                                   Manuel Mirabal,
                                                            Chair.

     

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