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Boustany Opening Statement: Welfare Reform Proposals

July 15, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA) delivered the following opening statement during a hearing on welfare reform proposals, specifically the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

“I welcome our members, witnesses and guests to this morning’s hearing on welfare reform reauthorization proposals.

“On April 30, this subcommittee held a hearing on ideas to improve TANF to help more families find work and escape poverty. We had an excellent panel of witnesses who shared their ideas, and since that time members and staff have been discussing ways that we might work together to improve our nation’s welfare system

“Today, our hearing will focus on specific proposals to improve the lives of families on welfare by better promoting work and helping families in need move up the economic ladder. Work is the only way for people to really escape poverty and achieve the American Dream, and we are eager to help more families succeed at doing just that.

“The Ways and Means Committee discussion draft released last Friday is designed to focus on outcomes—helping people get jobs and stay employed—and to help more people move from welfare to self-sufficiency. In short, this discussion draft:

  • Revitalizes the work requirement for people collecting welfare benefits;
  • Provides states more options to help people prepare to leave welfare for employment;
  • Holds states accountable for getting adults off welfare and into jobs;
  • Prevents the work requirements from being waived; 
  • Ends the TANF marriage penalty, among other key reforms; and
  • Maintains funding for the TANF program going forward.

“I would like to thank ranking Member Doggett and his staff for working with us on this draft. We are doing this the right way—holding constructive hearings, working in a bipartisan way on draft legislation, and soliciting expert and public comment as our work continues. We welcome our witnesses’ comments, and will be working together to incorporate that feedback as this legislation progresses.

“I would also like to thank the many members who have joined me in introducing specific bills to improve how the TANF program works. Whether it’s ensuring more adults on welfare are engaged in work and activities, providing additional flexibility so these activities meet people’s specific needs, or just setting a goal of reducing poverty through more employment, those bills are important markers on our path to helping families find work, escape poverty, and achieve the American Dream.

“We are joined by several additional members today, including Representative Paulsen and Representative Renacci, who are former members of this subcommittee. We welcome them back, and I appreciate everyone’s contributions to this effort.”