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Congressman Richard Neal

Representing the 1st District of Massachusetts

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Ranking Member Neal Opening Statement at Markup of Child Welfare, TANF, and Tax Credit Legislation

June 15, 2017
Press Release

Ranking Member Neal Opening Statement at Markup of Child Welfare, TANF, and Tax Credit Legislation

(Remarks as prepared)

Thank you, Chairman Brady. I’m glad to work with you today to advance five child welfare bills to the House floor.  I also am pleased that the Committee is considering today two bills—one that addresses strategies for helping TANF recipients improve their skills and find good jobs and another regarding the production tax credit for advanced nuclear power.

I’d like to begin with a few comments about the child welfare bills.  I applaud my colleague Mr. Davis for his efforts on H.R. 2742, the Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act; H.R. 2834, the Partnership Grants to Strengthen Families Affected by Parental Substance Abuse Act; and also H.R. 2842, the Accelerating Individuals into Employment Act, which I will discuss in greater depth in a moment.

I’d also like to commend Congresswoman Judy Chu, one of the excellent newer members of our committee, for her work as co-author of H.R. 2857, the Supporting Families in Substance Abuse Treatment Act.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell similarly deserves great praise for her work developing H.R. 2866, the Reducing Barriers for Relative Foster Parents Act.

Finally, our thanks to Congresswoman Karen Bass, a colleague who doesn’t serve on our committee but who has a strong commitment to helping young people in foster care. She spearheaded Democratic efforts on H.R. 2847, the Improving Services for Older Youth in Foster Care Act.

Today, we are taking up H.R. 2842, the Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act. It would fund demonstration projects to explore approaches that combine work and training to ensure that low-income parents receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) can get good jobs that will lift their families into the middle class. Democrats have long supported these approaches, and research shows that they can be very effective. I expect many of my colleagues will join Mr. Davis to promote this good research.

Many in this room would agree that, in some significant ways, TANF is failing families. I am concerned that this failure would certainly not be solved by the Administration’s proposal to arbitrarily cut TANF by $22 billion over the next decade. TANF currently serves only about one in four poor families, and states spend less than half of TANF funds on TANF’s core purposes –work, child care, and assistance to families. Specifically related to H.R. 2842, TANF puts states at risk of financial penalties if they help too many parents upgrade their education or their skills, including participating in programs that H.R. 2842 proposes to support.

We should gather additional evidence of what works to help struggling parents find good jobs and move out of poverty. We should also look at the bigger picture and remove the obstacles from states when it comes to education and training for TANF recipients.

Before concluding, let me thank the Chairman for also considering my colleague, Mr. Blumenauer’s, legislation that would modify the production tax credit for nuclear power facilities.  This bipartisan legislation also is a big priority for Representatives Clyburn and Rice as this is a critical jobs bill for the state of South Carolina.

However, I must highlight my disappointment that we’re not also acting on other member priorities in the energy tax space.  For example, there’s bipartisan interest on this committee for extending the section 48 investment tax credit for non-solar, section 48-eligible technologies.  The U.S. government spends a tremendous amount of money on energy policy through our Tax Code.  And therefore, as we continue our discussions on tax reform, I hope the Chairman will consider focusing on comprehensive energy reform as well.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

Watch the full markup here.

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