LaHood Bill Included in TANF Package
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Darin LaHood’s bill, H.R. 5838 the Improving Access to Work Act, was voted out of the House Ways and Means Committee as part of the Jobs and Opportunity with Benefits and Services (JOBS) for Success Act. The JOBS for Success Act will re-authorize, reform, and re-name the current Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program which aims to assist families in need with purchasing essentials and finding work.
“The foundational goal of TANF is to provide a temporary safety net for those in need of government assistance,” said Rep. LaHood. “However, too often states have used their TANF dollars to cover deficits in their own budgets instead of spending the funds on promoting workforce development or helping families find jobs. This is despite the fact that our surging economy has led to over 6.1 million unfilled jobs across the country. By including my bill in the package today, we are one step closer to bringing much-needed reforms to TANF and ensuring that it is fulfilling its goals of assisting those in need and helping get them back on their feet. I hope to see this common-sense package pass the House quickly, and then be taken up by the Senate. After 20 years, the time to improve this program is now.”
The JOBS for Success Act is a first step towards reforming our nation’s welfare programs, improving outcomes while addressing waste, fraud, and abuse. The package includes reforms for the TANF program that are supported by a vast majority of Americans, with 90% of voters supporting the requirement that able-bodied adults work, train, or volunteer in order to receive welfare benefits. In addition to Rep. LaHood’s legislation, the package voted out of the committee today includes reforms that give states more flexibility while also increasing transparency by allowing taxpayers to see how their money is being used. It also requires that these funds go to those making under 200% of the poverty line, ensuring that the funds and resources are going towards families in true need.
H.R. 5838 Background:
H.R. 5838 would prohibit states from supplanting federal TANF dollars to fill state budget holes or to fund activities unrelated to the stated goals of the program, such as mending roads and bridges or providing services to sex offenders. It would also require that states spend 25% of their federal block grant, as well as 25% of their qualified state expenditures on activities that support workforce, including job and career technical, development programs. These provisions will help hold states accountable for their spending and ensure that the dollars are going towards the neediest families to provide them with the resources and necessary tools to get back into the workforce.
TANF, created in 1996, provides a block grant to each state to assist families and children with temporary financial assistance. Since 1997, state spending on basic assistance has fallen by 64% after adjusting for inflation. In 2016, nearly 40% of TANF recipients abused the system by recording zero hours of the required work or training activities. That same year, states used only 9% of their TANF funds for work activities and only 3% on work support or supportive services. TANF’s current authorization is set to expire on September 30.