WASHINGTON, DC — This week, members of the House Ways and Means Committee introduced several bills to strengthen the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and better help its beneficiaries move from welfare to work. The eight bills are:
- H.R. 2952, the Improving Employment Outcomes of TANF Recipients Act, introduced by Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA), would reserve a portion of the TANF block grant to provide payments to states based on their success in helping former TANF recipients enter, retain, and advance in employment.
- H.R. 2967, the Using Evidence to Move Welfare Recipients into Work Act, introduced by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN), would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to catalogue successful approaches used to help welfare recipients move into work.
- H.R. 2968, the Coordinating Assistance for TANF Recipients Act, also introduced by Rep. Young, would provide up to $300 million annually to states to test ways to better serve welfare beneficiaries by improved case management, better coordinated benefits, and a choice of service providers.
- H.R. 2969, the TANF Marriage Penalty Elimination Act, introduced by Rep. George Holding (R-NC), would end the separate and higher work requirement for two-parent families on welfare, which today serves as a marriage penalty. Under this legislation, all families would be subject to the same work requirement, regardless of whether they are headed by one or two parents.
- H.R. 2966, the Reducing Poverty through Employment Act, introduced by Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), would add a new purpose to TANF—reducing poverty by increasing the employment entry, retention, and advancement of welfare recipients—to make sure states do more to help families escape poverty and move up the economic ladder.
- H.R. 2959, the TANF Accountability and Work Activity Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), would increase the share of adults on welfare expected to work or prepare for work by preventing states from receiving certain “credits” that today reduce the number of adults on welfare expected to do so in exchange for their benefits.
- H.R. 2990, the Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act, introduced by Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL), would provide up to $100 million to states to test whether subsidizing TANF recipients’ wages can be an effective means of helping them enter the workforce.
- H.R. 2991, the Preparing More Welfare Recipients for Work Act, introduced by Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) and Rep. Tiberi (R-OH), would encourage states to engage more recipients in activities leading to self-sufficiency and simplify the current work participation requirement each state must meet.
In introducing H.R. 2952, Subcommittee Chairman Boustany said, “Today our welfare system doesn’t reward success, treating states who fail to provide a pathway out of poverty exactly the same as those who help recipients get back on their own two feet. My Improving Employment Outcomes of TANF Recipients Act encourages states to use metrics and data to help welfare recipients find jobs and earn more, rather than allowing them to linger on rolls from one generation to the next.”
In introducing H.R. 2967 and H.R. 2968, Rep. Young said, “While the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program has assisted many, we still have not established a set of best practices to help all Americans realize their full human potential. Additionally, I am concerned that beneficiaries who use TANF are forced to spend too much time and energy navigating a maze of government bureaucracy. To combat these problems, I introduced two bills that will help our most needy families by improving delivery to the beneficiary and cataloging the best evidence-based approaches so we know what really works.”
In introducing H.R. 2966, Rep. Smith said, “Across the country, the gap between rich and poor is growing and hardworking families are just trying to make ends meet. My bill will help reform the welfare system to reduce poverty and promote work. It helps propel folks from government dependency to financial independence.”
In introducing H.R. 2959, Rep. Noem said, “Any program aimed at ending poverty must fundamentally expand opportunity. Unfortunately, loopholes within TANF have diluted the program’s integrity and its effectiveness in helping struggling families move up and out of poverty. By bringing genuine accountability back into the TANF program through H.R. 2959, I’m hopeful we can improve outcomes and ensure more families achieve financial independence.”
In introducing H.R. 2990, Rep. Dold said, “With so many struggling to find work, we need to do everything we can to help people find jobs. The Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act gives job seekers a powerful new tool to help them succeed in this difficult job market.”
In introducing H.R. 2991, Rep. Renacci said, “States need flexibility to help welfare recipients become self-sufficient. Current TANF work requirements can discourage states from engaging those with the least experience or education because they need greater help to prepare for employment. My bill simplifies these rules so states will be encouraged, and rewarded, for helping more welfare recipients prepare for work through education, find jobs, and escape poverty. As the first in my family to graduate college, I understand the importance and value of education throughout all aspects of life. While our effort is to help recipients get back to work, we also need to enable them to gain the skills required for success.”