U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) issued the following statement today in support of H.R. 890, the Preserving Work Requirements for Welfare Programs Act of 2013, to reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program through December 31, 2013. The legislation also prohibits the Obama administration from granting states the ability to waive work requirements for welfare programs. Rep. Kelly is a member of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on Human Resources, which produced this bill.
"The American dream is most alive when our society's most vulnerable and least fortunate are able to improve their condition and create a better life for themselves and their children. That was the purpose of welfare reform, and it must be protected. That the program has allowed millions of Americans to rescue themselves from the depths of poverty is not just a historical fact -- it is an achievement. It is unfortunate that this administration would seek to weaken one of the most effective bipartisan accomplishments of the last two decades.
"Last year's Health and Human Services memo weakens not only the law's central tenet but also the countless Americans whose chances at success would be diminished if welfare requirements were changed. Welfare reform -- which was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic president -- works because it promotes both the dignity of work and the personal rewards that come from personal responsibility. Today's bill protects this law and the lives of untold Americans whom it was designed to help."
Note: On July 12, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a memorandum encouraging individual states to come up with new ways to meet TANF goals as they related to "employment-related outcomes." The Obama administration's rule would have the effect of allowing states to opt out of TANF's work requirement for the first time since welfare reform's passage in 1996. The work requirements have been instrumental in lifting individuals and families out of poverty.
According to the House Ways and Means committee report issued last year, "between 1996 and 2000, employment of single mothers increased by 15 percent; earnings for female-headed households remained higher in 2009 than in 1996 despite shifting economic conditions; TANF caseloads decreased by 57 percent through December 2011; and child poverty has decreased dramatically and continues below levels in the 1990s. Allowing the administration's rule to move forward would significantly undermine this progress.