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Committee Takes Action to Help Families Escape Poverty

May 11, 2016

Ways and Means members today unanimously passed four pieces of legislation to reform the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, one of the nation’s most important anti-poverty programs. This commonsense package of proposals will help ensure our welfare system is effectively spending taxpayer dollars, delivering results, and serving those most in need.

As Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said at the start of the mark up:

“The bills we are considering today are targeted, achievable actions that will reform the temporary cash welfare program to help more families escape poverty and climb the economic ladder.”

The four bills approved by the Committee today include:

H.R. 5170, the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act. The legislation supports innovative and effective social programs that deliver real results. As bill sponsor Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) said:

“By changing the federal government’s definition of ‘success’ in federal social programs from inputs to actual outcomes, we can help our fellow Americans overcome the root causes of poverty and seize economic opportunities to work and provide for their families … [This legislation] empowers states, local governments, nonprofits, and the private sector to scale up evidence-based interventions that address our nation’s most pressing challenges.”

H.R. 2990, the Accelerating Individuals Into the Workforce Act. The legislation encourages employer-led partnerships to help people move from welfare to work. As bill sponsor Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL) said:

“It’s clear that our nation’s record in combatting poverty has been a mixed bag … The Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act is an innovative and local control-based way of putting individuals on a path towards self-sufficiency … [it allows] local communities to control how TANF dollars are spent.”

H.R. 2959, the TANF Accountability and Integrity Improvement Act. This legislation prevents states from gaming the system by counting more outside spending as their own. As bill sponsor Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) said:

“Some states are artificially inflating their state spending and in turn, improperly lowering their work requirement thresholds – sometimes all the way to zero … [my proposal] would close this loophole … [and] ensure states are investing their own money in welfare programs, not just relying on federal money.”

H.R. 2966, the Reducing Poverty Through Employment Act. This legislation empowers states to help families escape poverty and provide a better future for their children. As bill sponsor Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) said:

“While the overall goal of TANF is to help low-income individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency and improve their lives, the program does not currently have an explicit focus on reducing poverty … My bill would create a new core purpose of TANF: to reduce child poverty by increasing employment entry, retention, and advancement of low-income parents — ensuring states keep the focus of the program on promoting work to help families move up the economic ladder.”

As Chairman Brady reinforced, today’s markup was an opportunity to “jumpstart the conversation around welfare and enacting more successful, 21st Century solutions that reward work and spring Americans from the poverty traps that can hold them back.”

NOTE: Due to time constraints, the Committee did not complete all of the bills scheduled for action today. The following two bills will be considered in a future markup:

H.R. 2952Improving Employment Outcomes of TANF Recipients Act, sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA).

H.R. 5169What Works to Move Welfare Recipients Into Jobs Act, sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Chairman of the Human Resources Subcommittee.