H. R. 4277
[Congressional Record: August 11, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 4277, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM
ACT OF 1994
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the order of the House of
Friday, August 5, 1994, I call up the conference report to accompany
the bill (H.R. 4277) to establish the Social Security Administration as
an independent agency and to make other improvements in the old-age
survivors and disability insurance program.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Montgomery). Pursuant to the rule, the
conference report is considered as read.
(For conference report and statement, see proceedings of Thursday,
August 4, 1994, at page H6843).
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Jacobs] will
be recognized for 30 minutes, and the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Archer]
will be recognized for 30 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Jacobs].
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from
Texas [Mr. Pickle].
(Mr. PICKLE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. PICKLE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Indiana [Mr.
Jacobs] for yielding this time to me.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 4277, the Social
Security Administrative Reform Act of 1994.
Title I of this bill establishes the Social Security Administration
as a separate, independent agency. This is a landmark step in the
continuing effort to make sure that the Social Security System is
properly and impartially administered.
For too long the Social Security Administration has been caught in
the middle of political and budgetary disputes. This legislation will
go a long way to protecting the agency from the crossfire of partisan
politics. In my judgment, granting SSA independent agency status will
promote long-term stability in the Social Security Program. Such
stability is essential in this program which provides basic retirement
income security for almost every American worker.
I particularly want to commend Chairman Jacobs and Mr. Bunning for
their tenacity in advancing this legislation. The issue of independent
agency status for the Social Security Administration has been the
subject of many studies, reviews, and House votes over the years. In
fact, yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the day, August 10,
1984, that I, joined by Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, first introduced
legislation to grant SSA independent status. The conference report
before us today will finally make real the intent of that first bill
which we introduced a decade ago. While it has been a long time coming,
it has been worth the wait. And I think that Republicans and Democrats,
who have consistently supported this reform over the past decade, and
here I want to especially note the unwavering support of Mr. Archer,
all should take great pride in the ultimate attainment of our goal.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to call the Members attention two
other provisions of the bill which address problems encountered in the
SSI disability program.
The first provision deals with the granting of disability benefits in
situations involving middlemen who are fraudulently causing millions of
dollars in benefits to be paid to people who are feigning mental
disorders. Section 206 of the conference report, which was proposed by
myself, and Messrs. Harold Ford, Houghton, and Santorum, will help to
prevent this fraud by: Insuring accurate translations of interviews
conducted by SSA officials; establishing streamlined procedures for
terminating fraudulently obtained SSI benefits; and increasing civil
and criminal sanctions available to SSA in SSI fraud cases.
The second provision deals with the continued payment of SSI
disability benefits to recipients who are no longer disabled. Under
current law there is no requirement for SSA to conduct continuing
disability reviews for SSI recipients, even in cases where it is
anticipated that the medical condition of the beneficiary will improve.
The failure to conduct these disability reviews has led to the payment
of hundreds of millions of dollars each year to people who are no
longer disabled. Section 208 of the conference report, which is the
result of a proposal advanced by Mr. Herger and myself, requires SSA to
conduct disability reviews for at least 100,000 SSI recipients per year
for the next 3 years, and to report the results of such reviews to
Congress no later than October 1, 1998.
Mr. Speaker, I want to conclude by complimenting the leadership of
the Committee on Ways and Means for this very solid piece of
legislation. Chairman Gibbons and subcommittee Chairmen Jacobs and
Ford, working closely with Mr. Archer, Mr. Bunning, and Mr. Santorum,
have crafted a bill which will significantly improve the operations of
the Social Security Administration. Its immediate enactment will be a
credit to us all, and I urge that all Members vote for these important
Mr. ARCHER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
(Mr. ARCHER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. ARCHER. Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to be here today, in
support of the conference agreement on H.R. 4277, which represents the
culmination of congressional action I helped initiate over a decade
The Social Security System has always been extremely important to me.
It's one of the very few Government agencies that most Americans have
direct contact with and it's likely that many of our constituents
measure the way Government performs generally by the way Social
Security performs when they need it.
Bringing soundness to the Social Security System has been one of my
chief legislative priorities since I was elected to Congress. We owe it
not just to our senior citizens, but to our children and the
obligations we leave them. That is the reason that I chose to become
the ranking Republican on the Social Security Subcommittee when it was
It is also the reason that I sponsored the first House bill creating
an independent Social Security Administration with my colleague from
Texas [Mr. Pickle], was then the subcommittee's first chairman. I
commend the work of my colleagues, Jim Bunning and Andy Jacobs, for
carrying through that earlier work. Their efforts have been invaluable.
Mr. Speaker, making Social Security independent will not solve all of
its problems, but I believe that freeing it from the layers of
bureaucracy imposed on it by HHS will go a long way in making it less
political, more responsive, and more accountable. It is also critical
to its survival as a vital public service agency which administers the
most important social program ever enacted.
The 1983 Social Security Commission, on which I served, recommended a
study to make Social Security an independent agency, a recommendation
that became part of the 1983 Social Security Amendments. Former
Comptroller General Elmer Staats headed up the study panel, which
recommended that an independent Social Security Administration be run
by a single administrator, backed by a bipartisan advisory board. I am
very pleased that the conference approved the form of administrative
leadership specified in the bill introduced by the ranking Republican
on the Social Security Subcommittee, Mr. Bunning. His bill provided the
same form of leadership as was endorsed by the experts on the Staats
I believe that the seven-member bipartisan advisory board will plan a
critical role making Social Security less political and in improving
the public's confidence in the Social Security System.
This board will be independent of the Social Security Administration
and Government in general. It will be made up of individuals who share
a knowledge of the Social Security System as well as a strong desire to
restore it to its former status as a premier public service agency
which enjoyed the public's respect and confidence.
One of the most important jobs the Board will have is to increase the
public's understanding of the Social Security System. I hope that as a
result of the Board's efforts the average citizen will have more
confidence in the Social Security System, and will become more aware of
the need to plan and save overall.
The bipartisan, nongovernmental advisory board will play a vital role
in both protecting the public's interest in Social Security and
providing the public truthful information about their stake in the
The conference agreement contains other provisions that are important
to average Americans, who strongly support Social Security, but want
benefits to go to only those who are entitled to them. Thanks to the
persistence of two House conferees, the gentleman from Texas [Mr.
Pickle] and the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Santorum], the
agreement tightens up on SSI disability benefits by requiring Social
Security to review cases to make sure recipients are still disabled.
It also starts to tighten up on payments to drug addicts and
alcoholics by putting a 3-year limit on benefits, and by requiring that
during that time recipients undergo treatment and be paid only through
a responsible third party. These restrictions should provide an
incentive for addicts and alcoholics to get their lives back on track.
I know that average Americans and health professionals alike object to
helping addicts and alcoholics fuel their addictions by giving them
cash benefits, and I look forward to working with the subcommittee and
committee to take further action on these issues.
Mr. Speaker, I join Chairman Gibbons, subcommittee Chairman Jacobs,
and our Republican leader on Social Security, Mr. Bunning, in strongly
supporting this conference agreement.
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the
gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Rostenkowski].
(Mr. ROSTENKOWSKI asked and was given permission to revise and extend
Mr. ROSTENKOWSKI. Mr. Speaker, for more than a decade, the Committee
on Ways and Means has been seeking to give the Social Security
Our goal has been to restore the agency's mission of excellence, and
protect SSA from short-term political pressures.
I have been a long-time proponent of this legislation. The House has
passed the bill four times by overwhelming margins.
Now that the Senate has at last joined us in this effort, we are
about to make our goal a reality.
Social Security is our Nation's most successful program. There is no
more effective way to signify this program's importance than to give
SSA independent status.
H.R. 4277 also includes a provision to restrict disability payments
to drug addicts and alcoholics.
It would do this by paying through a responsible third party,
requiring beneficiaries to participate in treatment, and applying time
limits on benefits.
These are important reforms that would assure that Social Security
and SSI benefits are used as intended--to cover the cost of basic
necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter.
Mr. Speaker, this is a historic moment for Social Security and the
successful end of a decade-long effort by the Committee on Ways and
I commend my colleagues for their hard work, and I look forward to
the improvements in service to Social Security beneficiaries that this
legislation will bring.
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
(Mr. BUNNING asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Speaker, I rise enthusiastically in support of H.R.
4277 and urge my colleagues to join me in once again approving this
monumental piece of legislation to restore independence to the Social
We owe a special thanks to our Social Security Subcommittee chairman,
Mr. Jacobs, who has shown great leadership and dedication in the
development of this bill as has our ranking member, Mr. Archer, who has
been unwavering in his support on this issue for over a decade.
And, of course, the acting chairman of the full committee, Mr.
Gibbons, deserves recognition for shepherding this legislation through
In fact, all the conferees and staff who worked at ironing out the
final bill that is now before us were great to work with. The
conference was very congenial, totally bipartisan and a real pleasure.
And, most importantly, we have ended up with a good bill. It does a
lot of things to improve Social Security.
This bill fixes many parts of the existing law which are broke and
needed fixing. It makes disability payments to substance abusers more
accountable. It requires that substance abusers participate in
treatment or lose their benefits. It insures that benefits will not be
used to support an addiction.
It allows police and firefighters in all the States the option of
participating in Social Security. Only 24 States now have this option.
It provides that any borrowing against the Social Security trust fund
must be evidenced by physical documents--bonds, notes, or certificates.
It's time we got the trust fund IOU's in writing and this bill does
This bill increases the Social Security exclusion for election
workers to a reasonable level that will not discourage people from
working at the polls.
It does a lot of things.
But, of course, the most important point of this bill is to
accomplish something that members of this body have been trying to do
for years--to restore independence to the Social Security
In 1935, when Social Security was established, it was freestanding
and independent, run by a three member board. Over the years it was
expanded to be the Federal Security Agency and then it was folded into
the most legendary of all bureaucracies, the Department of Health,
Education and Welfare.
Later, Education was spun off and H.E.W. became the Department of
Health and Human Services.
Social Security got lost in the process.
This bill takes the Social Security Administration out of the
basement of the Department of Health and Human Services where it has
been lost in the bureaucratic shuffle.
It emancipates the Social Security Administration from the bonds of
politics and insulates it against the gale winds of Presidential
posturing, bureaucratic infighting, and budgetary games.
This bill insures that Social Security will no longer be a political
This bill provides much-needed stability at SSA by creating the
positions of a Commissioner and a Deputy Commissioner to be appointed
by the President and confirmed by the Senate, for 6-year terms.
In the past 17 years, 12 Commissioners or Acting Commissioners have
come and gone. Social Security has suffered from revolving-door
leadership. This bill changes that and provides the kind of stability
and a clear-cut line of responsibility any organization the size of SSA
needs to be efficiently managed.
To further strengthen oversight and accountability, this bill creates
a bipartisan seven-member advisory board to provide advice on Social
Security policy. Three members would be appointed by the President;
four by the Congress. and, again, to provide continuity and insulate
the agency from politics, the members would serve staggered 6-year
I am particularly pleased that the conferees chose to go along with
this form of leadership for Social Security that I specified in my bill
on the subject--a single administrator backed by a seven-member board.
By granting Social Security its independence and backing it up with
this well-balanced management structure, we will provide the stability
and the nonpartisan credibility we need to restore the confidence of
the American people that Social Security will indeed be there when they
I strongly urge my colleagues to support this measure and give Social
Security its independence.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, the Fourth of July has come and gone. It has been two
long and eight regular-sized years now, since this effort was begun.
Now on this 11th day of August, 1994, A.D., the Liberty Bill can ring
for the Social Security System. The House of Representatives, by what
it is about to do will take the final action in a 10-year effort. Our
action realizes the perseverance and the effort of 10 years to make a
declaration of independence for the Social Security System.
Many Members have made special contributions. I begin by naming my
friend and my colleague, the gentleman from Kentucky [Mr. Bunning]. Our
relationship as chairman and cochairman of the Social Security
Subcommittee reminds me fondly of those greats of the U.S. Congress,
William McCulloch of Ohio and Emanuel Celler of New York, and the
splendid fashion in which they worked and brought credit to this
institution. So I pay special tribute to the gentleman from Kentucky
[Mr. Bunning] for the cooperation we have been able to find between us.
The gentleman from Texas [Mr. Pickle] has been through the years a
strong advocate, as has the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Archer], as has
been mentioned. The gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Rostenkowski] has been
also, and the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Gibbons] has been. In fact
there are very few people on the committee who have not been strong
advocates for this legislation.
But I think it is especially appropriate to mention that the
legislation took 10 years because the White House was opposed and in
essence the other body, the Senate, was opposed. So I take this
occasion to commend our colleague, Mr. Moynihan of New York, for at
long last reversing the refusal of the other body. Similarly, we have
had three Presidents while this effort was under way, and President
Clinton has endorsed the plan at long last, reversing White House
Mr. Speaker, one hears it said that the funds of the Social Security
system are being purloined and used for the general government. With
the exception of two occasions in the 1980's, this absolutely is not
true. The Social Security System since its inception has been required
to invest its surpluses in the most conservative, the safest securities
available, and any financial adviser worth his or her salt will tell us
that is U.S. securities. My wife and I have our life savings
essentially in U.S. bonds.
If you put $1,000 in the bank and some fool comes along and borrows
that $1,000 from the bank to squander on something, still as far as the
bank and as far as you are concerned, the question is, Can and will
that individual pay that money back and pay the interest on it? In the
case of the Social Security trust fund, no doubt some of the funds
borrowed, as is the case with funds borrowed from other sources by the
U.S. Government, are wasted. Yet as far as the Social Security trust
fund itself is concerned, it has just as legal a claim on the U.S.
Treasury for the interest and repayment of the loans of the surplus as
any individual who holds U.S. bonds in this country. Yet it continues
to be thundered across areas of this country that the money is being
taken from the Social Security System without the inconvenience of
borrowing and paying interest.
I keep thinking about the story FDR told once about Uncle Jed and
Ezra said, ``Uncle Jed, aren't you getting a little hard of
And Uncle Jed said, ``Yes, I'm afeared I'm getting a mite deef.''
Whereupon Jed went down to Boston to see an ear doctor, and he came
back and said, ``That doctor asked me if I had been drinking any, and I
said, `Yes, I drink a mite.' He said, `Jed, I might as well tell you
now that either you cut out the drinking or you're going to lose your
``Well,'' said Uncle Jed, ``I thought it over and I said, `Doc, I
like what I've been drinking so much better than what I've been
ahearin' that I reckon I'll just keep on getting deef.'''
So the assertion that you hear time and time again--that this money
is being taken from the trust fund and that the Government is not
keeping faith with the investors and the taxpayers of this country--is
something to which I would advise you to turn a deaf ear.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minutes to the gentleman from New
York [Mr. Houghton].
(Mr. HOUGHTON asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. HOUGHTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the conference report
on H.R. 4277.
I will not repeat some of the wonderful things that have been said on
a bipartisan basis. I respect the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Jacobs]
and the gentleman from Kentucky [Mr. Bunning]. I think that what my
leader, the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Pickle], has done has been
I would like to focus on one particular feature that I think is
important here, and that is a section called section 231. That does not
mean much to a lot of people. However, it happens to involve fraud.
One of the things which the Ways and Means Committee was able to
detect over the years, after a year-long investigation, was that there
had been tremendous fraud perpetrated upon immigrants coming into this
country. People would take advantage of them, put them on the SSI
rolls, steal money from the Government and the taxpayers, and do this
thing illegally. That has been stopped, to the best of my knowledge. We
now have better information. We have laws to protect against this
Mr. Speaker, I think this is very important. The reason I mention it
is because it is one of the several features that are, I think,
important in establishing Social Security as an independent agency. I
thank the Members very much for accomplishing that.
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Speaker, I yield 6 minutes to the gentleman from
Pennsylvania [Mr. Santorum].
Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding time to
I rise in strong support of the conference report, and I also want to
commend the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Jacobs], the gentleman from
Kentucky [Mr. Bunning], and also the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Pickle],
for the fine work they have done on this legislation.
I think it is important that Social Security become an independent
agency, and those arguments have been made. What I want to focus on
today is a subject that I was involved with in the conference, and that
is the SSI reforms that are in the bill. I believe now, having looked
at the SSI Program for the 2 years I have been on the Human Resources
Subcommittee, that there is no entitlement program that is more abused
and more fraud-ridden than the SSI Program. What we have done today is
take a first step toward entitlement reform.
We have heard a lot of talk about this and people have asked, ``What
are you going to do about entitlements?'' Well, today we have an
opportunity to do something about entitlements. We have solid reforms
in this proposal that are going to make, I believe, some important
gains in controlling the cost of entitlements and reducing fraud and
abuse in entitlements.
But this is only a first step. There are many miles to travel before
we can clean up the SSI Program from the state it is in right now or
even the state it will be in after this legislation has been adopted.
Let me take the time to talk about two things that are, I think, good
steps that we have taken and then focus on the problems that I think
still remain. The gentleman from New York [Mr. Houghton] just talked
about the middleman provision about which the gentleman from Texas [Mr.
Pickle] had hearings in his Committee on Oversight and that were, I
think, addressed on target. It was a very good amendment. It addresses
the issue of aliens in this country who come here to this country and
get on SSI fraudulently. That is a good amendment, one that is going to
cut down on fraud and abuse and save the taxpayers money.
Another step that was a good step that the gentleman from Texas [Mr.
Pickle] and I worked on in the conference committee and were able to
get installed in this legislation had to do with mandatory disability
reviews. There were no mandatory disability reviews that were going to
be provided for in the conference report. We were able to strike a
compromise in the House position which was going to require all
mandatory disability reviews for all supplemental security recipients,
to 100,000 per year for disability cases and for over a 3-year period,
and one-third of all children who qualify for SSI, who when they turn
18 are reevaluated under different criteria, that is as adults, and
whether they would qualify for disability as adults rather than
disability as children.
We think those are very important steps to determine the level of
review that needs to be done. We are going to do a 3-year
implementation of this, take a look at the results, and see if we save
money, see if there is the need to continue these disability reviews
and expand them.
I want to commend the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Pickle], in
particular, for the tremendous work he did in the conference committee
to seek this provision and get it included in the conference report.
Unfortunately, we have only taken those few first steps. There are
other areas that I think we need some more work to be done in. One is
on the SSI DA&A Program, a supplemental security income drug addicts
and alcoholics program.
These are people who qualify for SSI simply because they are so
addicted to drugs and alcohol they cannot work. They have no other
disability, other than the fact they are so drug addicted to illegal
narcotics or addicted to alcohol that they can no longer perform work.
So we give them money. We give them cash. We give them medical care. In
many cases we give them food stamps.
In 1985, there were 3,500 people on this program. Today there are
almost 80,000 people on this program. In 1989, we spent $55 million on
this program. Today we spend $350 million on this program.
Only 8 percent of the people are in treatment. Yet every one is
required to be in treatment. But only 8 percent are in treatment. The
Social Security Administration testified before our subcommittee and
said that we knew very little about treatment progress of SSI
recipients, and could document few, if any, recoveries in the history
of the program. So this is not a program that is working.
So what we have been recommending strongly is to do something
dramatic to change it. What we have done in this bill, in my opinion,
is piecemeal. It is a positive step, but it does not go far enough. We
have capped the amount of time you can be on SSI to 36 months, 3 years,
that you can be on SSI if you are in the drug addicts and alcoholics
program. That is a start. But we have to be much more dramatic in
trying to get people off drug addiction and alcoholism and back into
the mainstream society, and not paying people money to support their
addiction and their habit.
The second thing that I think we went only a very small step on has
to do with SSI for children. Ever since the decision back in 1991 in
the Zebley case we have seen an explosion of children going on SSI and
their parents receiving large checks from the Government. In many areas
of the country, they are called crazy checks. These are checks given
because now under the Zebley decision, your child qualifies for SSI if
your children are exhibiting age-inappropriate behavior.
Now, for age-inappropriate behavior for your children, you get a $450
check a month from the Federal Government. With the amendment of the
gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Kleczka] in the committee, we will do a
study as to whether we can turn these cash payments to these parents,
who we have evidence in some cases of coaching their children to get
these checks, we have a study to look to whether we can go to a voucher
program for treatment of children who are having problems, as opposed
to cash to parents of these children.
Finally, we really do not address the issue of noncitizens receiving
SSI. We have $7 billion a year being paid to noncitizens in this
country for welfare payments, and a big chunk of that is SSI. Half a
million people who are noncitizens of this country receive SSI benefits
today, and it is a growing problem, growing faster every day. We must
do something about that.
This is a positive first step. I hope we can come back in future
Congresses to take more steps.
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, I want the record to show that Valerie
Nixon, Sandy Wise, Elaine Fultz, Cathy Noe, and Phil Mosely have all
contributed mightily to putting this whole revolutionary program
together. They are staffers on the committee. We could not have done it
at all without the help of Janice Mays, the staff director at the
Committee on Ways and Means, aka, Amazing Janice.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Ohio [Mr.
(Mr. FINGERHUT asked and was given permission to revise and extend
Mr. FINGERHUT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Indiana for
yielding. I want to compliment the gentleman and each and every member
of the Committee on Ways and Means, both the majority and minority
side, who have led the fight for this historic legislation for so many
years. I also want to add my thanks to President Clinton and the
administration for endorsing this bill, which gave it critical support
when it needed it.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the conference report
on H.R. 4277, legislation that would make the Social Security
Administration an independent agency with an accountable administrator
supported by a bipartisan independent advisory board.
The Social Security Administration is one of the most important
agencies of our Federal Government, with 64,000 employees. It is the
largest division of the Department of Health and Human Services and one
of the largest Federal agencies of any kind. Maintaining the integrity
of the Social Security System is vital to the well-being of our
seniors. The Government must keep its promises. It must not, and it
does not, as the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Jacobs] said before, use
the Social Security moneys for other programs. But an independent
agency will maintain the integrity of these funds and will fight for
the rights of seniors.
Most importantly, an independent Social Security Agency will protect
the agency from the political whims of the moment.
I believe that the final passage of this legislation will greatly
benefit my constituents. As an independent agency, the Social Security
Administration will be able to focus on the goal of improving service
and responding more efficiently and effectively to the people it
serves. Most importantly, such a move will enhance the confidence of
the American people in an agency which is a vital part of their lives.
Mr. Speaker, there are many other important provisions of this bill.
The gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Santorum] and others have referred
to the provisions with respect to the Social Security disability
program to tighten the requirements and make sure we are not needlessly
paying out money to support drug and alcohol addiction programs. I
support those reforms.
There is also a small but very important reform in this bill that
allows election day workers, those people who perform their civic duty,
to not have to pay Social Security benefits on their poll payments, a
small but very important and significant provision of this bill.
Another important provision of the bill would increase penalties
against deceptive mass mailings that cheat thousands of senior citizens
by mimicking official Social Security correspondence.
Mr. Speaker, I strongly support this conference report and urge its
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from
Illinois [Mr. Crane].
Mr. CRANE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, first off, I want to congratulate the gentleman and the
distinguished chairman of the Subcommittee on Social Security on which
I serve, too, for the outstanding bipartisan contribution that they
have made. It is long overdue, and a lot of the things that are being
addressed in this bill, while perhaps there are still further
improvements down the road that can be achieved, I think make a major
step forward in the right direction. The most important, of course, is
depoliticizing any aspect of this important new independent entity, the
Social Security Administration as an independent agency.
I think in addition to that, the reforms on drug and alcohol abuse,
those are critically important reforms, and the bill does indeed
provide the incentives for people to get out of drug and alcohol
addiction, and I think that they are two important ingredients of this
that in and of themselves, aside from the other reforms that are
contained therein, warrant the support on a bipartisan basis of all the
Members of this Chamber. I urge every one to vote for the conference
report on H.R. 4277.
Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social
Security, I urge my colleagues to support the conference report on H.R.
4277, the Social Security Administrative Reform Act. I believe this
legislation is an important step toward the efficient operation and
administration of the Social Security Program.
In too many instances, political fluctuations have brought
instabilities to the Social Security Administration. This legislation
will remove those uncertainties and allow for continuity in the
agency's operations. Starting in April of next year, Social Security
will be run by a commissioner and a bipartisan board, appointed for
specific terms of office and therefore somewhat more removed from the
Another important provision of this legislation is the reform of
disability compensation for drug and alcohol addicts. Current law
allows for far too much abuse of the system, intentional or otherwise,
as addicts who are not cured of their disability remain on the welfare
rolls. In contrast, this legislation forces addicts to assume some
measure of responsibility for their condition, not only requiring them
to seek treatment but also providing an incentive for them to actively
seek self-sufficiency. Requiring treatment will force addicts into
beneficial programs, and cutting off benefits after 3 years will
undeniably provide motivation for addicts to put their addictions
behind them and return as productive members of society.
These changes are especially relevant in a year when Congress is
attempting to tackle welfare reform. No longer can we afford to dole
out Federal largess without any promise of improvement. Some have
criticized the cutoff of benefits as arbitrary and counterproductive
for those who have not yet completed treatment, but I believe that we
must provide incentives for those who rely on Federal payments to find
other means of support. It is a lesson that we should all bring to the
debate over welfare as well.
This legislation makes important changes to the Social Security
Administration. And it marks an important change in how we approach our
social spending. I hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle
will join in support of this long overdue reform.
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from
Wisconsin [Mr. Barca].
Mr. BARCA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, today is another banner day for Congress. Yesterday we
passed the Congressional Accountability Act, and today we pass the bill
to make Social Security an independent agency and make other important
changes within that area.
We want to protect Social Security from political pressures and, most
important, guarantee the integrity of our Social Security funds. Since
Franklin Delano Roosevelt first pushed Social Security, it has been one
of the most important programs to provide for the security and dignity
of Americans in retirement. It has always been a very important buffer
for people in tough economic times.
Senior citizens throughout Wisconsin and America can rest a little
easier with the passage of this bill. Also I had heard from many poll
workers in my district, such as Norm Buckholtz and Eleanor Cavelli, and
many others that believe that we need to exempt them from the taxes
from Social Security, and I thank the gentleman from Indiana [Mr.
Jacobs], for his hard work in that effort.
Finally, and equally importantly, a provision I now call on drug
addicts. I had visited many treatment centers in my district and have
been working on legislation in this respect. And I believe this is an
important provision to limit payments to 36 months and ensure that the
moneys are going to curb addiction rather than feed people's addiction.
Hopefully this will be just one of a number of steps that we can take
in this regard.
So today is a great achievement for the Social Security Program. It
is a great achievement for the 103d Congress. I thank the chairman and
his committee for their outstanding work. I believe that FDR is smiling
with great favor upon the 103d Congress today.
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from
Michigan [Mr. Camp].
(Mr. CAMP asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. CAMP. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Kentucky for
yielding time to me.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Social Security
Administrative Reform Act Conference Report.
This bill, establishes the Social Security Administration as an
independent agency. It will ensure the integrity accountability of
Social Security by greatly diminishing the politics of the agency. It
will remove the agency from the control of HHS and better enable the
Government to keep its promise to older Americans.
As a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, I have seen evidence
of Social Security disability abuse. Under the current, SSI program
some drug addicts and alcoholics defraud the system, rather than get
treatment for their addiction. This legislation is a first step in
addressing the abuse and fraud within the SSI Program. It is our
intention to continue working to reform current law and bring a balance
to the disability program.
This bill will also provide Social Security tax relief to election
workers which have been unfairly taxed causing added administrative
burdens to local governments, charged with conducting our elections.
I urge my colleagues to restore senior citizen's trust in the
Government by voting for this conference report. It is a good idea for
the Social Security Administration and best of all a good idea for the
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from
Wisconsin [Mr. Kleczka], the author, I might add, of the reform on the
(Mr. KLECZKA asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. KLECZKA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding time to
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the conference report and ask
unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.
Mr. Speaker, one of the focuses of the 103d Congress has been to make
the Federal Government run more efficiently and to increase the general
public's confidence in its Government.
We are committed to this objective and have made strides toward
H.R. 4277 takes a step in this direction. By making SSA an
independent agency, we hope to increase the quality of service it
Currently, SSA is overwhelmed: there is a tremendous backlog in
disability cases waiting to be processed, agency employees are
sometimes difficult to reach, and responses are often slow in coming
and errorprone upon arrival.
This is due to: an overburdened system plagued by shortages of staff
and rising numbers of cases, as well as a high-rate of turnover among
top agency officials.
By creating an independent, more stable, structure for the agency, we
will hopefully correct some of the problems with the current system.
We will thereby increase confidence that the Social Security System
will be able to provide the quality of service and benefits that is
The bill also makes headway in reforming the current system by
demanding accountability for disability payments to substance abusers.
My office has received numerous calls from constituents who are
adamant that their hard-earned tax dollars not be used to finance the
habits of drug addicts and alcoholics.
The issue is not that we should withhold assistance from substance
abusers who are seeking rehabilitation. We should help them if they are
committed to rehabilitating themselves and improving their lives.
The Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General
recently tracked 196 sustance abusers on SSI for 3 years:
Only 1 of these 196 recipients left the SSI rolls due to self-
This led the IG to determine that current treatment efforts appear to
result in few complete rehabilitations that eliminate a recipient's
need for SSI.
Clearly, this is a program that's not working.
If we're not helping substance abusers successfully rehabilitate and
become capable of earning income, then the program is failing both the
recipient and the taxpayer.
We cannot allow this to continue.
H.R. 4277 includes a time limitation provision I offered, along with
my colleague from Oklahoma, [Mr. Brewster].
Under this provision, substance abusers who qualify for benefits
because of their addictions will only receive cash assistance for 36
Mr. Speaker, at some point, we must say enough is enough. At some
point, the recipient must be asked to take ultimate responsibility for
his or her life.
By enacting this bill, Congress is saying 3 years is the appropriate
While this bill does a good job of addressing some of the problems
with the SSI and SSDI Programs, this is just a first step.
Some of the changes in H.R. 4277 are modest ones, and we must ensure
that payments are used for their intended purpose.
In general, the Social Security Administrative Reform Act proposes
innovative solutions to problems faced in various programs under the
jurisdiction of SSA.
However, more must be done.
We must continue to scrutinize this system in search of ways to
improve failing programs and recoup wasted resources.
The American people expect and deserve quality service from their
government, and they want to know that their tax dollars are being used
Mr. Speaker, we have the responsibility to live up to these
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from
California [Mr. Herger]
Mr. HERGER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this
legislation, which includes a provision I offered which will begin
conducting continuing disability reviews in the SSI Disability
Program--a reform which will make a significant contribution to ending
fraud in this program, saving up to $300 million in future years.
I would like to thank my colleagues, chairman Gibbons and ranking
member Bill Archer for their support. I also want to thank subcommittee
chairman Andy Jacobs and ranking member Jim Bunning, and particularly
the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Pickle], who has been a strong advocate
of this reform, and the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Santorum].
Mr. Speaker, compiling a profile of those collecting SSI disability
benefits who are most likely to recover is crucial to getting a handle
on spending in the SSI Disability Program, which is the fastest growing
entitlement in the Federal budget. It is amazing that, until now, the
Social Security Administration was not required to verify that persons
receiving SSI disability benefits were still eligible for benefits,
even after the passage of many years. While many people may well
recover from their disability and be able to go back to work, until now
we have not required any effort to find this out.
This has only fed the explosion of our disability rolls, thus
jeopardizing benefits for those who remain truly disabled and have no
other source of income.
Eliminating this oversight is an important feature of H.R. 4277. I
urge my colleagues to support responsible reform of our disability
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from
Kentucky [Mr. Lewis].
Mr. LEWIS of Kentucky. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from
Kentucky for yielding time to me.
I also want to thank him for his dedicated work toward bringing this
bill to the floor today.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of this landmark
legislation, H.R. 4277, that finally gives the Social Security
Administration its freedom.
By making the Social Security Administration an independent agency,
H.R. 4277 gives SSA a chance to operate the way it was originally
intended when this program was first created. SSA will no longer be
subject to the restraints and red tape that come from being part of the
Department of Health and Human Services.
SSA will be able to concentrate on administering its programs, and
provide better, cost effective, and more efficient service to the
Social Security is one of the most important programs that our
Government offers. Since just about every American pays into it during
their lives, it is our responsibility to make sure that the Social
Security system is strong and solvent for generations to come.
By passing this conference report and making SSA an independent
agency, we can do just that.
This bill also makes many other improvements to the Social Security
system that are badly needed. Specifically, H.R. 4277 cleans up the
regulations on Social Security benefits for drug addicts and
alcoholics. As it works now, these people can receive Federal benefits
with virtually no supervision on how the money is used, or
encouragement to get treatment.
But H.R. 4277 changes that. Under this bill we can be sure that
American tax dollars are not being used to feed alcohol and drug
habits. Instead, H.R. 4277 encourages these folks to get help, to be in
therapy and to start getting their lives back on track.
These are needed changes for SSA. They have been a long time in the
making and thanks to the hard work of the members on the Social
Security Subcommittee and the Ways and Means Committee, we have the
chance today to make them.
I urge my colleagues to support these improvements for Social
Security and vote yes on this conference report.
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New
Jersey [Mr. Hughes].
(Mr. HUGHES asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. HUGHES. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Indiana for
yielding time to me.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 4277, legislation to
establish the Social Security Administration as an independent agency.
I firmly believe that we must act now to ensure strong, stable, and
independent leadership for this large Federal agency which is of
crucial importance to virtually every American.
As the former chairman of the Select Committee on Aging and the
current Chairman of the Older Americans Caucus, I have held a number of
hearings that have detailed serious and costly problems with SSA's
ability to provide appropriate assistance to older and disabled
Americans. It is very clear from this testimony that we are
experiencing a real crisis in service delivery in a number of different
With administrative costs running around 1 percent, Social Security's
staffing was put through a rapid downsizing process in the late 1980's,
eliminating nearly one-fourth of its personnel. While steps were needed
to streamline the agency, the evidence is overwhelmingly clear that we
have gone too far. Many of these reductions were made strictly for
political reasons, and they are costing the taxpayers millions of
dollars in incorrect benefit payments and forcing many elderly and
disabled beneficiaries to face undue hardships.
One of the most serious effects of this political jockeying can be
seen in the unacceptable backlog in the Nation's disability program,
which is barely treading water under a sea of unprocessed claims and
paperwork. Despite completing more casework with fewer staff, the
nationwide backlog of unprocessed disability cases is well over 800,000
cases, a level which is some 2\1/2\ times larger than it was just 3
years ago, and we can expect the disability caseload to be over 1
million cases by the end of the year. On the front end, the average
disabled applicant must wait 5 to 6 months in many areas of the country
in order to have his or her initial disability application reviewed. In
many instances, people are dying before their casework is processed.
And on the back end, we are costing the taxpayers tens of millions of
dollars because we do not have sufficient personnel to review the
disability rolls to determine those who have improved enough medically
that they should no longer be receiving disability benefits.
Consequently, the taxpayers are spending tens of millions of dollars on
persons who should no longer be receiving benefits.
In short, we have hundreds of thousands of people waiting inordinate
amounts of time to receive the disability insurance they have paid for
at the same time that taxpayers are spending estimates of up to $100
million per year on persons who should not be on disability. Is there
any wonder why many of our constituents have the perception that their
Government is not working?
In addition, a growing number of Social Security recipients in New
Jersey and throughout the country are finding it increasingly difficult
to get timely assistance. Busy signals at SSA's national 1-800
telephone service are running over 50 percent on some days, with many
older persons telling me that they often just give up because of the
Social Security recipients have a right to expect that when they call
for questions or assistance, they will not be faced with inordinate
delays, busy signals, or staff who are too busy to provide complete and
accurate answers to their questions.
Many of these problems can be traced to the fact that Social
Security's administrative operations are being driven by short-term
There is also a real crisis in accountability and continuity within
the agency. In a little over 15 years, there have been 10 Commissioners
or Acting Commissioners of Social Security. We simply must have more
long-term planning and accountability for this vital agency. I believe
that establishing Social Security as an independent agency is the only
way we can ensure some continuity within the agency and isolate it from
short-term budgetary and partisan considerations.
I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation, and I
commend the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Jacobs] and the gentleman from
Kentucky [Mr. Bunning] for their leadership in bringing this bill to
the floor, as well as the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Pickle], who I saw
earlier and is in the back of the Chamber, and so many others for
making this day possible. It is the right decision, an important
decision, I think, in the history of Social Security, and Mr. Speaker,
ask my colleagues to support this particular initiative.
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from
Washington [Mr. Swift].
(Mr. SWIFT asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. SWIFT. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the chairman of the
subcommittee, the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Jacobs], and I want to
thank the Committee on Ways and Means for their perseverance.
There is a provision in this bill that is kind of a reverse unfunded
mandate. We actually help local government with one of its important
Mr. Speaker, a few years ago Congress inadvertently caused local
election officials some serious problems in recruiting and hiring
election poll workers. Often these people are already retired, and some
Social Security requirements dissuaded many from volunteering for that
work on election day. This bill fixes that in a way that has bipartisan
support, and will significantly help local election officials get their
job done on election day.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the chairman of the subcommittee the
gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Jacobs], I want to thank the gentleman from
Kentucky [Mr. Bunning], and I want to thank all the Members of the
Committee on Ways and Means for taking care of this problem for the
poll workers of America.
Mr. Speaker, as chairman of the Subcommittee on Elections of the
House Administration Committee, I have a special reason for being
pleased with this legislation. In July 1991, three years ago--State and
local election officials noted that because of an oversight in the 1990
OBRA, Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, they faced an enormous
administrative and financial burden. In the OBRA, Congress extended
social security coverage to State and local government officials
without noticing that the $100 exemption for election workers already
in place would not be adequate to continue exempting those election
workers that no one intended to cover. They did not need the coverage--
most are already on retirement, and they did not work at the polls
because they needed the money--they have been leaving in droves because
of the administrative hassles they now face. And running elections has
been more and more difficult to do for the state and local
The solution was easy, but putting it into effect has not been. The
House twice placed a provision to raise the exemption to a realistic
figure--$1,000--in the budget reconciliation bills only to have the
Senate object in conference.
But now, in H.R. 4277, this conference bill to make the Social
Security Administration an independent agency, we find there is a small
provision to raise the exemption for poll workers from $100 to $1,000.
The provision did not appear by accident. Chairman Jacobs and the
committee have worked hard to get this in and to keep it in, and I
thank them for it.
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the
gentleman from Florida [Mr. Young].
(Mr. YOUNG of Florida asked and was given permission to revise and
extend his remarks, and to include extraneous material.)
Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this all-
important, long overdue legislation.
Mr. Speaker, as the representative of one of our Nation's largest
populations of Social Security recipients and the chairman of the
Congressional Social Security Caucus, I rise in strong support of this
conference report on H.R. 4277, the Social Security Administrative
This legislation gives the Social Security Administration long
overdue independence from the Department of Health and Human Services
and, more importantly, from political pressures that can be exerted on
its Commissioner. Under H.R. 4277, the agency would be headed by a
single administrator, appointed by the President, but who would serve
under the oversight of a seven-member bipartisan board. This board, as
the voice for the almost 40 million Americans who receive Social
Security benefits, would ensure that the trust funds remain sound and
untouched, that payments and cost-of-living adjustment continue to be
paid in full and on time, and that the agency continues to provide
timely and efficient service for retirees, workers, and employers.
As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and
Human Services, which oversees the operations of and funding for the
Social Security Administration, I am well aware of the chain of command
which currently requires the Commissioner of Social Security to report
to the Department of Health and Human Services. Likewise, the agency's
budget requests must also be reviewed and approved by the Secretary.
The legislation before us today will enable the Social Security
Administration to present directly to Congress and our committee its
annual budget request. This is important in that it enables us to know
what the new Administrator and Social Security Board believe are the
agency's true funding requirements, not those imposed upon them by the
Department of Health and Human Services.
This legislation also takes a number of important steps to further
enhance public confidence in the Social Security Program. It cracks
down on the payment of supplemental security income [SSI] and
disability insurance [DI] benefits for alcoholics and drug abusers. It
also requires the Social Security Administration to direct greater
resources into preventing, detecting, and terminating fraudulent claims
for SSI benefits.
Finally, the conference report retains an important House provision
to give the Administrator greater powers to police the mailings and
fundraising appeals of various organizations who attempt to mislead and
frighten older Americans, many of whom live on small fixed incomes and
depend almost solely on their monthly Social Security benefits for
their financial well being.
We have become all too familiar with calls, letters, and post cards
from our constituents asking if they have to contribute $5 or $10 to
the variety of organizations that have sprung up to purportedly protect
their Social Security benefits. As I tell each of these people who
contact me, they do not have to contribute a single penny to any of
these organizations to protect their benefits. It is the responsibility
of Congress, and my job as their Representative, to ensure that the
U.S. Government continues to live up to its commitment to ensure that
the Social Security trust funds remain sound and that their benefits
and cost of living adjustments are protected.
Mr. Speaker, this is the fourth time the House will consider this
legislation and I am pleased to know that after allowing it to die
three previous times, our colleagues in the other body have finally
joined us in enacting this legislation. It is a reaffirmation that the
Social Security trust funds are an independent and self-supporting
sector of our Federal Government and that oversight for these funds
should be provided for by an independent agency and board.
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from
Wisconsin [Mr. Roth].
Mr. ROTH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding time to me.
Mr. Speaker, I want to join with so many of the other speakers who
have had such complimentary remarks about the gentleman from Kentucky
[Mr. Bunning], the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Pickle], and the gentleman
from Indiana [Mr. Jacobs] for the fine work they have done on this
legislation. I want to join in congratulating them.
Mr. Speaker, as the chairman of the House Republican Social Security
Task Force, I rise in support of this conference report to reform our
Social Security System.
Social Security is a trust between the American people and their
Government. But as the members of the Social Security Task Force heard
in a recent hearing, this trust has been eroded. Instead of being
invested for the future, billions of Social Security dollars are being
spent on programs other than Social Security.
Senior citizens are justifiably upset that political and budget
battles have put their hard earned Social Security benefits in
jeopardy. The Social Security System is also being abused. Drug addicts
and alcoholics are spending their Supplemental Security Income and
Social Security Disability Insurance benefits on more drugs and
By passing this conference report today, the House will take a
significant step to correct these problems. This action is long
overdue. Today's bill will make Social Security an independent agency
to protect Americans' retirement funds from political and budget
battles. Every Social Security beneficiary, both current and future,
must be assured that their benefits will be secure, and that the
program will be administered fairly and soundly. By walling off Social
Security as an independent agency, Congress will help to assure the
American people that Social Security funds will be used for Social
Security purposes only.
Today's bill also will tighten the rules for drug addicts and
alcoholics who receive benefits. As I testified last February to Mr.
Jacobs' subcommittee, the American people are outraged that our Social
Security system has degenerated into a cash cow for addicts. Nearly
250,000 drug addicts and alcoholics received $1.4 billion in Social
Security Disability Insurance payments last year, with no strings
attached. Addicts are cashing their checks and buying drugs the same
day. And while I would prefer to see even tougher restrictions, today's
bill will impose some tighter rules on SSI and SSDI recipients who are
addicts. Benefits to addicts will be cut off after 3 years. Second,
benefits must be paid to a responsible party who will ensure that the
recipient is participating in a treatment program.
Mr. Speaker, senior citizens deserve to have an independent and
depoliticized Social Security Administration to responsibly oversee
their retirement benefits. And the American people are looking to
Congress to stop the scandalous waste of Social Security funds by
addicts. To combat both these problems, I urge my colleagues to support
this conference report and help strengthen the Social Security system
on behalf of all Americans.
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from
Ohio [Mr. Regula].
(Mr. REGULA asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. REGULA. Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the sponsor and authors of
this legislation. As vice chairman of the Older Americans Caucus, I
know how very important it is to senior citizens to have a sense of
confidence in their systems, particularly Social Security.
Mr. Speaker, as we all know, there are many groups that communicate
to seniors, causing them to worry about the integrity of the Social
Security System. We get letters reaffirming such worries. By making SSA
an independent agency, this bill means that the integrity of the Social
Security System can be maintained. Moreover, such action will prevent
Social Security benefits from being further used as both political and
budgeting pawns. Enactment ensures that those who pay into the system
will receive their benefits.
I also commend provisions which strengthen safeguards against the use
of disability and supplement income payments to support a drug or
Truly, this bill restores not only the confidence of our present
retirees, but the confidence of our future retirees--guaranteeing that
our Social Security System can and will be preserved.
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Speaker, may I ask how much time we have remaining?
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Serrano). The gentleman from Kentucky
[Mr. Bunning] has 3 minutes remaining.
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume
to close debate for our side.
Mr. Speaker, there is one more important point I would like to make
in closing. Ever since I have come to Congress I have received
hundreds, perhaps thousands, of letters from older citizens who are
frightened. They are frightened because unscrupulous lobbying
organizations have been scaring them to death with unsolicited mailings
saying Congress is about to cut Social Security.
These letters usually read something like this: ``Congress is about
to act on Social Security cuts. We need your money to stop Congress
now.'' That is just plain cruel, and it is inexcusable.
Older Americans are usually on fixed incomes and even $5 or $10 a
month means the difference in food and medication each month. But these
groups do not care. They will seize any opportunity to solicit
contributions from senior citizens under the guise of lobbying Congress
to stop any Social Security cuts. One of the jobs of the new bipartisan
board will be to inform the public about Social Security. I am hoping
the board will do such a good job of informing the public about Social
Security that these unscrupulous organizations and their mailings will
be put out of business.
Again, let me reiterate my strong support for this bill. It is time
Social Security took its place as a nonpartisan and independent agency.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, first I would be pleased to incorporate by reference
every word my colleague, the gentleman from Kentucky, has just said. It
is pretty reprehensible to rip anybody off, but it is particularly
reprehensible to rip off people who may not be adequately informed.
There is a work for it, and that is conning. That is wrong.
A moment ago, I omitted mentioning Phil Moseley, a staffer at the
Committee on Ways and Means who has contributed greatly to this effort
as well. While I am commending, I also commend our President who within
a few days, I understand, will take the final step and sign this
legislation into law. So break out the firecrackers. Let freedom reign.
Independence is at hand for the Social Security System. It is a fine
day for the United States.
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the
gentleman from Florida [Mr. Shaw].
(Mr. SHAW asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. SHAW. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I rise
in strong support of this most important legislation. I compliment both
sides in working together.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my strong support for the
conference report on H.R. 4277, the Social Security Administrative
Reform Act of 1994. This important bill makes a number of changes that
will help protect the Social Security system on which millions of
First, it makes Social Security an independent agency, which is a
position I have long supported by cosponsoring and voting for bills to
this effect. Passage of H.R. 4277 this year means that Social Security
will become an independent agency no later than March 31, 1995. The new
agency will have independent, bipartisan leadership. This will help it
function more efficiently for the seniors who depend on Social Security
benefits to make ends meet. And the Social Security trust fund will
remain protected from political or general budgetary pressures.
Second, the bill attempts to restrict disability insurance and SSI
disability payments to substance abusers. Many hardworking Americans
were outraged to learn that such a program even existed, spending
Social Security funds on drug addicts and alcoholics disabled by their
addictions. In my view, the restrictions in H.R. 4277 do not go far
enough to get addicts into treatment and back to work. But they are an
admission that a problem exists in this area, which the next Congress
must continue to address.
H.R. 4277 makes positive changes in 30 other areas, including raising
the Social Security exclusion for election workers from $100 to $1,000
annually starting on January 1, 1995. Prohibitions on the misuse of
Social Security and other Government symbols are strengthened. That
responds to mass mailings and solicitations meant to deceive those
receiving them into thinking they were sent by the Federal Government.
This is a problem many seniors especially have alerted me to, and I am
pleased that we are continuing to strengthen penalties against this
Mr. Speaker, I urge Members to support this important legislation,
which will help protect the Social Security system in the years to
Mr. STARK. Mr. Speaker, I am happy that this conference report
contains three provisions that will benefit a small number of
motivated, hard-working people with disabilities. I would like to
describe these provisions which I offered and which were accepted by
the Ways and Means Committee.
An SSI recipient who has a disability has the opportunity to have
extra resources or income in order to achieve a work goal under a plan
for achieving self-support [PASS]. Currently, an individual with an
approved PASS may be eligible for income and resource exclusions for 18
months, followed by two possible extensions of 18 and 12 months,
respectively. The maximum of 4 years to achieve a PASS is given to
persons pursuing a lengthy educational program. Often it is difficult
for a person with a disability to achieve their goal within the given
time period and the inflexibility with regard to the length of time
allowed can produce anxiety and--in cases when the goal is not achieved
in the given time--produces frustration and discouragement.
H.R. 4277 requires the Social Security Administration [SSA] to take
into account the needs of the individual and the difficulty of
achieving the goal in determining the time necessary for the completion
of a PASS.
Presently, an SSI recipient other than a child living with a parent
in military service cannot remain outside the United States for more
than 30 consecutive days and retain eligibility for SSI. Also, the
person must be back in the United States for 30 consecutive days before
being considered to be eligible for SSI and only if the individual
continues to meet all other eligibility criteria.
A provision in H.R. 4277 allows the SSA to exempt SSI recipients from
the 30-day time limit for a period not to exceed 1 year if the
individual is fulfilling an educational requirement through a program
which is not available in the United States and which will result in
improved employment potential. Though this provision will help a very
small number of people, it will allow these individuals to compete on a
par with other students, disabled or nondisabled, if their educational
requirements can only be fulfilled by study in a foreign country. The
only way for many people with disabilities to become competitive in the
labor force is to become highly educated. Young people, who have the
intelligence and stamina to overcome the obstacles that disabilities
present and acquire an advanced degree, can look forward to many years
as productive members of our society.
Mr. Speaker, the third provision I would like to highlight extends
the provisions in current SSI law for protection against loss of
Medicaid eligibility because of subsequent cost-of-living increases in
Social Security benefits, to those persons who are working and
utilizing the section 1619(b) work incentives provisions.
There were a number of other provisions that I proposed and that the
Ways and Means Committee accepted but were not accepted by the
conferees. One of them would have deemed approved a PASS after 60 days
if the SSA had not acted in that time. The Secretary could have
subsequently disapproved the PASS prospectively and the individual
would have had 6 months to spend down any money that had been saved to
accomplish the work goal.
I am happy that in the conference report the conferees requested the
General Accounting Office [GAO] to conduct a study of the PASS program
and its procedures since they felt not enough information on the PASS
program is available at this time. I look forward to the findings and
recommendations that this study will give us.
I am pleased to support the conference report on H.R. 4277.
Ms. SNOWE. Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my support for the
conference report on H.R. 4277.
I have been a cosponsor of legislation since the 99th Congress to
make the Social Security Administration a separate, independent agency,
and I am pleased to be able to cast my vote in favor of this
legislation to make it happen. I support this effort because I believe
that establishing the Social Security Administration, the ninth largest
agency in the Federal Government, as a separate agency would further
strengthen the program and ensure that it remains responsive to the
millions of elderly and disabled Americans to whom it provides benefits
The Social Security program represents a promise the Federal
Government made to Americans. It is vitally important that this promise
never be broken and that everyone knows that by paying into the system
during their working years they will be assured of getting benefits for
themselves and their family in their later years. Making the Social
Security Administration an independent agency will help ensure that
this promise remains unbroken.
I urge my colleagues to join me in support of this conference report.
Mr. Mfume. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the conference report on
An Independent Social Security Administration (H.R. 4277), which makes
the Social Security Administration an independent agency.
The Social Security Administration is responsible for administering
the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Program, Disability Insurance [DI]
Program and the Supplemental Security Income [SSI] Program. The Social
Security Administration is the ninth largest agency in the Government.
The conference agreement establishes the Social Security Administration
[SSA] as an independent agency, effective March 31, 1995.
Like the House bill the conference agreement includes several
provisions which aim to improve the administration of Social Security
DI and SSI programs. For example, the measure requires SSA to conduct
continuing disability reviews for all SSI recipients in the same manner
as they are now conducted for DI recipients. Further provisions in the
agreement will give SSA additional authority to prevent benefit fraud
and increases the penalties against deceptive mass mailings that mimic
official Social Security correspondence.
In my district of Baltimore, the employees of SSA have asked that I
support this measure.
However, Mr. Speaker, my support comes with some reservations.
Specifically, I am concerned that Congress' desire to improve and
advance the productivity and services of the Social Security
Administration, while well-intentioned, may not be enough. In addition
to passing this legislation, Congress must give the Social Security
Administration the necessary resources to successfully make the smooth
transition to independent status.
An example of the transition SSA finds itself going through was
recently seen when the Social Security Administration announced that it
would cut 1,000 management jobs through attrition. Shortly thereafter,
SSA announced that it will need an additional 11,000 employees to
handle its increased responsibility.
Another concern I have stems from the fact that the conference report
brings SSA into a new realm of responsibility without giving it
additional resources. An example of the new responsibilities is a
provision in the agreement which restricts payment of disability
insurance [DI] and supplemental security income [SSI] for persons with
drug and alcohol addictions. Under current law, SSI recipients who have
substance abuse problems are required to be paid through a designated
second party. Unfortunately, there have been cases in which the alleged
supplier of the drug to the abuser was the representative payee.
In a provision I support, this bill requires that where possible,
organizations, rather than family or friends, be named as
representative payees for Disability Insurance and Supplemental
Security Income recipients, unless SSA determines that a family member
However, the agreement requires that the Social Security establish
agencies in all 50 states that would find treatment programs for DI and
SSI beneficiaries who are substance abusers, monitor their
participation in the treatment program, and periodically conduct drug
tests to determine if substance abuse problems are continuing. Under
this provision, people with substance abuse problems who are receiving
disability insurance would be required to participate in treatment, if
available, in order to receive benefits. Regardless of participation in
the treatment program, DI and SSI benefits to substance abusers would
be cut off after 3 years unless the individual qualifies for benefits
for reason other than the substance abuse problem.
This will require the Social Security Agency to become involved in a
whole new activity; drug testing for DI recipients. I have a number of
problems with this, but that discussion is better left for another
Mr. Speaker, it is my hope that this conference report will pass to
allow the Social Security Administration to become an independent
agency. It is my further hope that we recognize the need to give this
new agency adequate resources to improve and provide better service.
Mr. MACHTLEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the conference
report on H.R. 4277, legislation which I believe will take important
steps to restore public confidence in the Social Security system.
Throughout my tenure in Congress, many seniors have contacted me to
express their fear that the Social Security Trust Fund is being
And a recent GAO report, which reported that an estimated 250,000
drug addicts and alcoholics collected approximately $1.4 billion in
Social Security disability insurance and supplemental security income
funds last year, proves them right.
While the recipients of these payments are eligible for this Federal
assistance, there is little or no evidence that these funds are being
used for treatment. Instead, in many cases, these payments are being
used to fuel the addictions.
Now my heart goes out to those families that have had to deal with a
loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, and I feel we should
continue to offer our help in getting these people treatment.
But the purpose of the Social Security Act is straightforward--to
provide for the economic security of our population as it grows older
or becomes disabled. It is certainly not intended to provide drug
addicts and alcoholics with the financial means to perpetuate their
Making the Social Security Administration an independent agency would
greatly enhance public confidence in the management of these funds.
The integrity of the Social Security system is important to me and to
many of my constituents, and I firmly believe that this legislation
will help to protect the system now and in the future.
I urge my colleagues to support this conference report.
Mr. RIDGE. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of H.R. 4277,
the Social Security Administrative Reform Act of 1994.
This legislation makes the Social Security Administration an
independent agency within the Federal Government, removing it from its
current home within the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS].
H.R. 4277 also contains provisions which place limits and restrictions
on Social Security benefits paid to individuals with substance abuse
Mr. Speaker, a priority of mine in Congress has always been, and
continues to be, to make sure that the Social Security Administration
is able to function as efficiently and timely as possible. Many older
citizens in my district and across Pennsylvania live on a fixed income
and rely heavily on Social Security benefits.
Giving the agency its independence will free it from the political
and bureaucratic problems with which it has been forced to operate for
so many years. Such political and bureaucratic problems have
jeopardized its ability to perform properly. Making it an independent
agency will go a long way in rectifying that problem, and, for this
reason, I am pleased to support this legislation.
Also, placing some restrictions and limits on Social Security
benefits paid to substance abusers is a step in the right direction.
While substance abuse is no longer viewed as merely a behavioral
problem and is widely regarded as a medical condition, I believe this
legislation accomplishes two very worthy objectives.
First, treatment exists for substance abuse. It is compassionate
therefore to encourage those suffering from substance abuse to seek
help. Second, it is appropriate, and fair to other Social Security
beneficiaries, to make sure that benefits being paid to substance
abusers are not being used to sustain their addiction. For these two
reasons, I am pleased that an effort was taken to ensure that the
provisions contained in H.R. 4277 were done in both a fair and
Mr. Speaker, making the Social Security program a well-working, long-
lasting entity has been one of my highest priorities as a public
servant. Keeping Social Security taxes down, and Social Security
benefits up is paramount to that effort. H.R. 4277 goes a long way
toward that end and I am pleased to rise in support of it. Passage of
this legislation is long overdue.
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may
have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks
on the conference report on H.R. 4277.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Serrano). Is there objection to the
request of the gentleman from Indiana?
There was no objection.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Without objection, the previous question is
ordered on the conference report.
There was no objection.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the conference report.
The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that
the ayes appeared to have it.
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Speaker, I object to the vote on the ground that a
quroum is not present and make the point of order that a quorum is not
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Evidently a quroum is not present.
The sergeant at arms will notify absent Members.
The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--yeas 431,
nays 0, not voting 3, as follows:
[Roll No. 392]
de la Garza
Johnson, E. B.
So the conference report was agreed to.
The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.