Levin Floor Statement on TANF Legislation

Jun 21, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in support of legislation that would extend the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for one year:

(Remarks as delivered)

“Mr. Speaker, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program expires at the end of September. We need to extend this program, and this legislation accomplishes that goal. 

“But we have so much more to do. Once TANF is temporarily extended, our Committee and this Congress should work toward a more comprehensive review and reauthorization of the program. We need to make sure that spending under TANF is focused on the core missions of helping needy families and promoting work. We need to further open opportunities to education and training so that TANF recipients can prepare for and find good jobs. And we need to ensure that adequate child care and other supports are available for low-income parents in the workforce.  

“Of course, if we are serious about reducing poverty, improving TANF must be part of a broader agenda that seeks to help Americans endeavoring to help themselves. We should be substantially increasing the minimum wage for hardworking Americans, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to childless workers, and expanding access to affordable housing. And we should be building on successful programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Social Services Block Grant, and the Affordable Care Act.

“Instead, the agenda we have seen from the Republican leadership of this House is to block meaningful improvements, or even worse, to gut programs that now provide opportunity to Americans. Eliminating the Social Services Block Grant, as Republicans propose, will make child care less available, making it harder for low-income parents to go to work. Cutting funding for education and training, as the Republican budget suggests, would have the same effect of blocking a path to work. And repealing the Affordable Care Act, as Republicans have voted repeatedly to do, would make it harder for people to move into work and to move between jobs. Republicans say they support work, but time and again they oppose work supports.

“The programs that arose out of our war on poverty reduced poverty by over 40 percent, despite claims to the contrary by some of our Republican colleagues. However, at the same time, we still have 47 million Americans who live in poverty. These struggling families deserve real action, not more of the same old failed policies and empty rhetoric that we heard in the report from the House Republican Poverty Task Force several weeks ago. And they certainly deserve better than huge cuts to programs they depend on.

“Mr. Speaker, I support this bill because it extends the TANF program – a necessary program for low-income families. The bill also includes a one-year allocation to test social impact partnerships, in which the private, non-profit, and government sectors attempt to come together to address certain social problems.”