WASHINGTON — Today, Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY) introduced the Preserving the Work Requirement for Welfare Act. The legislation prohibits the Obama administration from waiving the work requirement in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In July 2012, the Obama administration declared it had the authority to waive the work requirement, which has been key to the success of welfare reform in increasing work and earnings and reducing poverty. No prior administration ever claimed to have authority to waive the work requirement, for one simple reason: That authority doesn’t exist in the law.
Upon the bill’s introduction, Rep. Reed, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA) issued the following statements.
Congressman Reed stated:
“Workforce training and education ensures opportunity for our most hard hit communities. In fact, a good job is the single most important part of breaking the cycle of poverty. My bill would restore the essential work requirement that provides much needed on-the-job experience to those that receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. I care for those who rely on these programs and I want to see that they have every opportunity to get a hand up. It’s time to reform our safety net so that all Americans have a fair chance to participate in the American Dream. Restoring the work requirement would be that hand up into the workforce and opportunity.”
Chairman Ryan stated:
“Moving people from welfare to work is what has made this program a success. Preserving the work requirement—not weakening it—is the least we can do to promote opportunity for those who need it the most. This principle is critical to helping people get back on the payroll and building a healthier economy for all.”
Chairman Boustany stated:
“The successful welfare reforms of the 1990s were predicated on the idea that any American who falls on hard times can get back on their feet if they work for it. The TANF program at the heart of those reforms is meant to be a hand up, not a hand out. Preserving work requirements under TANF is important to protect the integrity of these programs and ensure recipients are building the necessary skills and experience to navigate out of poverty.”