Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) today voted against politically motivated legislation that would deny needed flexibility to our "welfare to work" programs.
The bill, H.R. 890, was an effort to politicize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program by eliminating certain waivers that give states flexibility in administering employment programs. Since last year, the majority party has attempted to make these waivers a political issue by claiming that they relax work requirements for welfare recipients, even though that claim has been repeatedly debunked by independent, non-partisan fact checkers.
"This bill is a political stunt that comes at a time when we should be addressing serious issues that affect American families," Kind said. "And the bill would actually move us backwards, since the waivers require more welfare recipients to join the workforce and create more innovative solutions to help people find jobs."
Last year, the Obama Administration's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) offered a plan to provide states with waivers that would allow increased flexibility to move more Americans from welfare to work. The proposal specifically called on states to place 20 percent more welfare recipients into the workforce as compared to previous years.
For years, the concept behind these waivers has been embraced by elected officials on both sides of the aisle. In July of 2012, Republican Governor Gary Herbert of Utah emphasized the need for waivers in a letter to HHS, saying "some of [the TANF work] participation requirements are difficult and costly to verify, while other participation requirements do not lead to meaningful employment outcomes and are overly prescriptive. Utah suggested that we be evaluated on the basis of the state's success in placing our customers in employment ...[and] this approach would require some flexibility at the state level and the granting of a waiver."
"The House majority opted to push a tired, discredited political attack that undermines the important task of helping people who need jobs find them," Kind continued. "It's a shame that they would make it harder for welfare recipients to find work just to score a few political points."