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Subcommittee Considers Future of TANF

On July 15, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources held a hearing, “Welfare Reform Proposals.” The hearing was an opportunity for stakeholders to provide feedback on draft legislation to reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which expires September 30.

Lt. Colonel David Kelly, program secretary, Salvation Army, supported the committee’s consideration of several issues, including increased funding to make up for a decline in funding over the past five years due to inflation; elimination of what is commonly referred to as the marriage penalty, or the reduction in assistance given to two-parent families receiving TANF benefits; and improved and customized opportunity plans, individually tailored to help each TANF recipient “get what they need to become self-sufficient.” Lt. Col. Kelly also encouraged the committee to allow more education to count towards activity hours, stating that “[e]ducation is shown to improve the long term financial outcomes of individuals, and education is a critical step to finding a stable job at a livable wage.” He also supported Congress’ funding of pilot projects that test ways to better help TANF recipients enter, retain, and advance in employment, and receive high quality evaluations.

Lt. Col. Kelly concluded his testimony saying, “We are very pleased that leadership is seriously examining the long term path forward for how we care for those in greatest need. A well-developed plan that works to improve the lives of individuals by getting them into jobs that pay enough to no longer be eligible for public benefits is the best path forward.”

The following witnesses also testified:

  • Kristen Cox, executive director, Utah Governor’s Office of Management and Budget;
  • Boyd Brown, area director, Employment and Training, Goodwill Easter Seals Minnesota;
  • LaDonna Pavetti, vice president, Family Income Support Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; and
  • Grant Collins, senior vice president, Workforce Development, FedCap Rehabilitation Service, Inc.
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