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Chairman Brady Opening Statement at Hearing on “Moving America’s Families Forward”

May 24, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) today delivered the following opening statement at a full committee hearing entitled “Moving America’s Families Forward: Setting Priorities for Reducing Poverty and Expanding Opportunity.”

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Today, we’re holding our first full committee hearing on America’s welfare system in 10 years. We’re doing this because the current system is failing to deliver results for those that need it most, and it is our responsibility to be part of the solution.

“Today’s hearing is about people, and right now there are more than 46 million in our nation who are living in poverty.

“Decades of experience tells us the most effective anti-poverty program is a job. Yet of those who are working-age and in poverty, nearly two in three are not working, many of them not by choice, but in large part because of the welfare system.

“The current system is a disjointed maze of more than 80 different programs that have been layered on top of one another with little regard for coordination, duplication, or purpose.

“For decades, money has been thrown blindly at this system, without a genuine regard for effectiveness in actually delivering real results. This approach lacks compassion and respect for American families trapped in poverty.

“We need a system that provides more Americans with personalized solutions, real paths out of poverty, and better opportunities to realize their potential.

“A critical step to achieving that is to define a clear set of principles to guide our work and we believe we have four that do just that.

“First, we will expect work-capable adults to work or prepare for work in exchange for receiving benefits because it helps to set individuals on a path to long-term employment.

“Second, we will strive to get program incentives right. If we can do that, recipients, taxpayers, employers, states, and nonprofits will all be better off when someone moves from welfare to work.

“Third, we will focus on results of welfare programs and do everything possible to ensure they are actually helping individuals and families.

“And fourth, we will seek to improve integrity of programs to decrease fraud and preserve welfare benefits for those most in need.

“Streamlining and better coordinating the disjointed maze of anti-poverty programs will not be an easy task. These programs span the welfare system as well as the jurisdiction of several congressional committees – including ours.

“I believe our committee needs to do all it can to advance targeted solutions. I know our members have bold, innovative ideas based on solutions being used in their own backyards. And, most importantly, we all believe everyone should have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

“Americans like Ms. VanZant, who is here to testify today. She escaped the maze of the welfare system, and now spends her days helping others do the same. She joins us as the executive director of Life Services at CareSource, a national non-profit health management organization serving more than 1.4 million Americans. Her work is dedicated to helping others navigate barriers to self-sufficiency so they can move out of poverty and up the economic ladder.

“We have a lot we can learn from Ms. VanZant and all of the witnesses here today. I’m grateful to all of you for being here to share your knowledge and help our committee identify solutions to help more Americans move out of poverty and up the economic ladder.”