John Tierney on Welfare & Poverty
Democratic Representative (MA-6)
Voted NO on maintaining work requirement for welfare recipients.
- Prohibits any experimental pilot or demonstration project that: waives compliance with mandatory work requirements
- Rescinds and nullifies any such waiver granted before the enactment of this Act.
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
Rep. REICHERT: Congress must ensure that work continues to be the centerpiece of the TANF welfare program. We are here today debating the Obama administration's efforts to undermine work requirements. Bipartisan discussions were actually happening before the Obama administration announced they would waive work requirements for welfare recipients last summer. That announcement completely undermined bipartisan negotiations in our committee about ways to strengthen this program. Usually, if an administration wants to change the law, they must submit a legislative proposal for Congress to consider, but that's not what the Obama administration did with its proposal to waive the TANF work
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
- Rep. LEVIN: Last summer the administration proposed that states would be allowed to apply for waivers and have some flexibility in terms of the application of the work requirements--not the end of them or changing them, but the implementation of them. The idea that the administration is going to try to overturn welfare reform is ridiculous. States have to apply individually for waivers, and they have to explain in detail why the approach would lead to either more employment or better jobs for people who are trying to stay off welfare.
- Rep. NEAL: I chaired the Democratic position [on 1990s welfare reform]. One of the goals of welfare reform was to move unemployed Americans from welfare to work, and it did work. The legislation has been very successful in meeting that goal. Welfare reform put people back on the work rolls. Welfare rolls have dropped by half, & poverty amongst children has dropped as well.
Reference: Preserving the Welfare Work Requirement & TANF Extension Act;
; vote number 13-HV068
on Mar 13, 2013
Voted YES on instituting National Service as a new social invention.
Congressional Summary:Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act:
Adds to National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA) purposes:
- providing year-round opportunities in service-learning;
- involving program participants in emergency and disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery;
- increasing service opportunities for retiring professionals;
- encouraging service by individuals age 55 or older and continued service by national service alumni;
- focusing national service on the areas of national need.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D, MD): [In developing national service over many years] we were not in the business of creating another new social program. What we were in the business of was creating a new social invention. What do I mean by that? In our country, we are known for our technological inventions. But also often overlooked, and sometimes undervalued, is our social inventions.
We created national service to let young people find opportunity to be of service and also to make an important contribution. But not all was rosy. In 2003, when I was the ranking member on the appropriations subcommittee funding national service, they created a debacle. One of their most colossal errors was that they enrolled over 20,000 volunteers and could not afford to pay for it. That is how sloppy they were in their accounting. I called them the "Enron of nonprofits."
And they worked on it. But all that is history. We are going to expand AmeriCorps activity into specialized corps. One, an education corps; another, a health futures corps; another, a veterans corps; and another called opportunity corps. These are not outside of AmeriCorps. They will be subsets because we find this is where compelling human need is and at the same time offers great opportunity for volunteers to do it.
Opponent's argument to vote No:No senators spoke against the amendment.
Reference: Serve America Act/GIVE Act;
Bill H.R. 1388
; vote number 2009-H169
on Mar 31, 2009
Voted YES on providing $70 million for Section 8 Housing vouchers.
Voting YES on this amendment would add $70 million to the Section 8 housing voucher program, funding an additional 10,000 affordable housing vouchers.
Proponents of the amendment say:
- This amendment would enable an additional 10,000 low-income families to afford safe, decent housing.
- To offset this increase, the amendment cuts a poorly managed computer upgrade program. The committee has been very ingenious in squirreling away money in different accounts and the bill would still provide $94 million in funds for IT projects.
- We have a choice: Do we want to help thousands of families obtain affordable housing, or do we think it is more important to have a somewhat faster computer upgrade in HUD?
- Our amendment does not seek to restore the amount to the amount that the President recommended, which is $144 million more than the committee recommends, it seeks merely to restore $70 million, or about half of what the difference is to what the President recommended.
- This is less than the bare
minimum of what is needed. We have hundreds of thousands of families on waiting lists, waiting up to 10 years for decent housing for Section 8 vouchers.
Reference: Department of Housing and Urban Development appropriations;
Bill HR 5576 Amendment 1015
; vote number 2006-267
on Jun 13, 2006
- The existing bill fully funds the renewal of Section 8 vouchers. Additional funds are simply not necessary.
- The cost of Section 8 vouchers are remaining constant and in some markets are actually decreasing. As such, this funding level will provide funds to restore vouchers that may have been lost in recent years.
- The proposed reduction will cause delays in critically needed efforts to modernize antiquated legacy computer systems.
Voted NO on promoting work and marriage among TANF recipients.
Welfare Reauthorization Bill: Vote to pass a bill that would approve $16.5 billion to renew the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant program through fiscal 2008 and call for new welfare aid conditions. The bill raises the work requirements for individuals getting assistance from 30 to 40 hours per week. States would be required to increase the number of recipient families working from the current level of 50 percent to 70 percent or more in 2008. The bill also provides an additional $1 billion in mandatory state child care grants and provides $200 million annually for marriage promotion programs.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Pryce, R-OH;
Bill HR 4
; vote number 2003-30
on Feb 13, 2003
Voted NO on treating religious organizations equally for tax breaks.
Vote to pass a bill that would allow religious organizations to compete equally with other non-governmental groups for federal funds to provide social service, and provide $13.3 billion in tax breaks for charitable giving over 10 years.
Bill HR 7
; vote number 2001-254
on Jul 19, 2001
Voted NO on responsible fatherhood via faith-based organizations.
Vote to establish a program that would promote more responsible fatherhood by creating educational, economic and employment opportunities and give grants to state agencies and nonprofit groups, including faith-based institutions.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Johnson, R-CT.;
Bill HR 3073
; vote number 1999-586
on Nov 10, 1999
Sponsored maintaining SNAP nutrition assistance program.
Tierney co-sponsored House Resolution on SNAP
- WHEREAS hunger is a serious threat to individual dignity, productivity, learning, economic prosperity, health, and development;
- WHEREAS food insecurity means that people face an ongoing struggle against hunger;
- WHEREAS 50.1 million people lived in food insecure households in 2011;
- WHEREAS the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), established in the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, is the nation's first line of defense against hunger and food insecurity;
- WHEREAS SNAP served more than 47.5 million individuals in October 2012;
- WHEREAS the SNAP benefits average less than $1.50 per individual per meal;
- WHEREAS SNAP participation rises when the economy is weak;
- WHEREAS millions of Americans need to turn to SNAP as a way to feed themselves and their families;
Whereas SNAP is an efficient public-private partnership that runs on the regular channels of commerce--regular retail food stores and electronic benefit transfer (EBT) systems;
- WHEREAS every dollar in new SNAP benefits generates up to $1.79 in economi
Source: H.RES.90 13-HRes90 on Feb 28, 2013
Reduce the concentration of wealth & wage inequality.
Tierney adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:
Economic inequality is the result of two and a half decades of government policies and rules governing the economy being tilted in favor of large asset owners at the expense of wage earners. Tax policy, trade policy, monetary policy, government regulations and other rules have reflected this pro-investor bias. We propose the introduction or reintroduction of a package of legislative initiatives that will close America’s economic divide and address both income and wealth disparities.
The Progressive Caucus could take the lead in the formation of a national leadership steering committee to put this dramatic issue before the public through coordinated media campaigns and local education and action forums. The political program should be concerned with: After a decade of economic prosperity, the moral question remains: if we can’t address the persistent economic divide in our nation today, when can we?
Source: CPC Position Paper: Income Inequality 99-CPC3 on Nov 11, 1999
- Reducing wage inequality: We are proposing initiatives to both raise the minimum wage floor and prevent the tax code from subsidizing excessive compensation.
- Asset-building initiatives:
The government has historically given land to citizens. Unfortunately, the programs were discriminatory toward people of color and kept a whole generation of people off the asset-building train. We are proposing a universal asset building approach that will dramatically reduce the number of “asset less” households and reduce the disparity of wealth for all Americans.
- Addressing the over concentration of wealth and power: The concentration of wealth is a problem because it distorts our democracy, destabilizes the economy and erodes our at our social and cultural fabric. Too much concentrated wealth leads to too much concentrated power and begins to undermine our participatory democracy.
Page last updated: Feb 20, 2016