There has been a polite but pointed exchange of letters between Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and three of the state's Democratic congressman about the Raleigh administration's handling of federally-funded anti-poverty programs during the government shutdown.
The exchange started when the three Democratic Reps – David Price, G. K. Butterfield, and Mel Watt – sent a letter to McCrory inquiring why North Carolina seemed to be the only state to interrupt funding of the old welfare program, now known as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Grant or TANF.
McCrory writes that the congressmen are "simply wrong" the the Obama administration provided a "guarantee of reimbursement" for any state funds used to replace the federal funds that Congress failed to provide.
The governor also takes issue with the congressmens assertion that North Carolina had decided "to discontinue the operation of TANF.” The state stopped taking new applications for November.
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"North Carolina acted responsibly and notified the service providers that federal funding for Work First programs may not be available in November,'' McCrory wrote.
In a letter dated Friday, the Democratic congressmen were having none of it.
"Your assertion that you did not discontinue the operation of the TANF program is simply not credible,'' the congressmen wrote. ""Your administration did not merely 'notify’ the service providers that federal funding for Work First programs may not be available in November.'' The notice that your administration sent to county social services directors on October 10th expressly directed them to cease processing new applications for benefits ‘until federal funds become available.’ In addition, the notice state unequivocally that the state would be 'unable to make any Work First Family Assistance payments in November 2013' absent congressional action.''
The letter said the McCrory took a similar action on the WIC program for pregnant women and babies before reversing itself.
"Given that all 49 other states worked to maintain TANF programs during the shutdown, it is not unfair to ask why North Carolina was the lone outlier,'' the congressmen wrote.