Congressman Griffith’s Weekly E-Newsletter 07.23.12
The Remote Area Medical (RAM) Volunteer Corps held its largest event in the United States at the Wise County Fairgrounds this past weekend. News reports indicate that approximately 3,000 people received medical care over the course of the weekend. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to visit with a number of the volunteers and support workers as well as tour some of the facilities on site.
Though it was discouraging to see the large number of people in need, it was once again a breathtaking experience to witness the hundreds of volunteers selflessly giving up their time to help provide even the most basic care. At one point, while watching volunteers scurry from one patient to the next, I was reminded of what Ronald Reagan said: “The work of volunteer groups throughout our country represent the very heart and soul of America. They have helped make this the most compassionate, generous and humane society that ever existed on the face of this earth.” That fact remains true to this day.
I want to thank the Health Wagon team for their continued efforts in spearheading the RAM event each year in Wise County. I’m told that the key to the RAM event is the follow up care. In our area, this care is provided by the Health Wagon. I also want to commend the dozens of organizations, private foundations, and businesses, as well as the hundreds of volunteer doctors, dentists, nurses, and medical students, who help make these kinds of events a huge success in Wise County and all across the world.
Welfare Reform Takes a Step Backward
In August of 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 – commonly known as the Welfare Reform Act – was passed and signed into law by President Clinton. At the time, some objected to this law, saying it would result in significant increases in poverty and hunger. Contrary to the predictions, the statistics overwhelmingly showed the successes of the reforms.
On July 12, 2012, President Obama – through a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “Information Memorandum” – is now trying to waive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) mandatory work requirements. This news is both confusing and very upsetting. At the time of passage, Democrats and Republicans supported the work requirement. In fact, the bill passed both the House and the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. And, President Clinton made it clear in a signing statement that “This act honors my basic principles of real welfare reform. It requires work of welfare recipients.” In 2001, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service found that “there are no TANF waivers.” The text of the law is clear, both parties were overwhelmingly in support of the legislation’s work requirements, and the law has been a huge success. So, it begs the question, why is President Obama issuing this memo and where does he get the authority to ignore this law?
In light of this new memo, seventy-five of my colleagues and I sent a letter to Secretary Sebelius expressing our concern with the President’s decision to issue this waiver and asking for clarification of the steps that led to this unprecedented waiver. As I receive answers to these questions from Secretary Sebelius I will update you. [A copy of the letter can be found here.]
Lastly, my thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by the horrific incident that occurred in Aurora, Colorado.
As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my offices. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.