Washington—After reports surfaced that Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) are dropping work requirements for food stamp recipients contained in the House Farm Bill, it now appears Congressional Republicans are doubling down on the same approach in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Reauthorization.
Contrary to the good work done in the House on H.R. 5861 that strengthens work requirements, the Senate Finance Committee released text of a TANF reauthorization that would loosen the way work requirements are counted and allows states to stop tracking the specific hours of participation for certain recipients, effectively exempting these recipients from current work requirements. According to 1996 welfare reform architect Robert Rector:
Currently, the main problem in TANF is that the work requirements are too weak. Half of the work-capable population in TANF is completely idle. This draft bill would fail to address this essential problem. In fact, it would actually make the situation worse by weakening the existing work requirements. The 1996 welfare reform, which implemented work requirements, was successful in reducing classical dependence, resulting in a substantial drop in the real poverty rate of single-parent families. This draft legislation represents a significant step backward in that progress.
Heritage Action released the following statement from Executive Director Tim Chapman:
The American people overwhelmingly support welfare reform that strengthens work requirements. 92 percent agree that able-bodied adults who receive cash, food, housing, and medical assistance should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving those government benefits. Republicans believe in the power of work requirements to lift people out of poverty. They should fight for it by passing the House bill or at least passing a simple reauthorization of TANF.
Heritage Action reserves the right to key vote a TANF reauthorization bill that weakens work requirements in the future.