Congessional Record - Senate

104th Congress 2nd Session
Tuesday, July 23, 1996

Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I yield 3 minutes of my leader time to the Senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Santorum).

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania is recognized.

Mr. SANTORUM. I thank the majority leader. Mr. President, I just want to say that this is welfare reform. This is the dramatic change in the system that the American public has been asking for for years and years and years. This is the real deal. This is the opportunity to change millions of people's lives. This is the opportunity that people who are poor in this country have been wanting and asking for for a long, long time--the opportunity to get education and training that is meaningful, the opportunity to go to work, and if you cannot find a job in the private sector, if you cannot get a job on your own, the State will assist you getting that job. If you cannot find a private-sector job, the State will assist you in getting a public-sector job. There are no more barriers because of labor unions to get that job in the public or private sector. This is the real deal when it comes to work, when it comes to education, training, and helping families get out of poverty. From now on, after this bill, we are no longer going to measure whether we are successful in poverty by how many people we have on the welfare rolls, but by how many we got off of the welfare rolls, because they have dynamic opportunities for education and training to make that happen. And, yes, they have requirements.

We have had lots of welfare reform pass in the U.S. Senate for years and years. But there has never been the requirement to have to work. I know some people say that is mean and tough. I can tell you that it is the only way that you move people who are having struggling times in their lives off of those welfare rolls. It is tough love--but the operative word is love. It is there and it is to help people.

I hear a lot of people say, "Well, this is going to punish children, and we should not punish the children," as if the current system does not punish children, as if illegitimacy rates where over a third of all the children born in America are born to single moms does not punish children. That does not hurt kids not to have a father in the household? That does not hurt kids not to have the work values that are taught in the household where a mom gets up in the morning and a dad gets up in the morning and goes to work? That does not hurt kids? It does not hurt kids to have to go out and play in a playground and worry about stepping on a needle from a drug addict? Of course, it does. This system hurts kids. That is why we are here--because the system hurts kids.

The issue before us is whether it is more important to have a Federal safety net system that is there to provide for every aspect--and the majority leader will talk about this--of the 50 or more programs that are there to take care of every possible need a child in America has. Is that what we want? Do we want the Federal Government guaranteeing every aspect of everybody's life? Or do we want solid families, safe neighborhoods, good schools, the values of work, and an opportunity to pursue the American dream? I will trade guarantees of Government protection of every aspect of someone's life for a solid home, a solid community, and loving parents.

I yield the floor.

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