House committee approves TANF reauthorization bill

By Kermit Kaleba, May 24, 2018

Earlier today, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the Jobs and Opportunities with Benefits and Services (JOBS) for Success Act, legislation that would reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program through Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. The bill was approved on a party line vote of 22-14.

As noted in our analysis of the bill earlier this month, the bill would maintain current work requirements for TANF recipients but would eliminate the “work participation rate” that requires states to ensure that a certain percentage of work-eligible households are meeting hourly work requirements. Instead, the bill would shift to an outcomes-based system that is somewhat consistent with the common performance metrics under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The bill would lift some key restrictions on education and training, including the limit on the number of months that an individual can be participating in training, and the cap on the percentage of individuals who may be in training and be counted towards the participation rate. National Skills Coalition supports the inclusion of performance outcomes and the elimination of training restrictions, but we oppose the continued inclusion of ineffective hourly work requirements as a condition of benefit eligibility.

The final bill approved by the committee did not include an earlier proposal to split the TANF state grant into a formula grant and a smaller matching grant; however, it does maintain funding for the overall grant at current levels, which have not been updated since TANF was originally passed in 1996. NSC supports increased funding for TANF, and we are disappointed by the static funding levels proposed by the JOBS for Success Act.

Committee Democrats offered several amendments during the markup, including the Improving Access to Good Jobs for Parents Act (HR 5888), which would provide $900 million in grants to partnerships between TANF agencies and other stakeholders to provide high quality training for TANF participants. National Skills Coalition has endorsed HR 5888, and we will continue to advocate for inclusion of this important proposal as part of any final reauthorization package.

The committee bill will now head to the House floor, but it is unclear when a vote would be taken, as the House is dealing with a range of other priorities – including resolving an emerging standoff in the Republican caucus over immigration legislation, and potentially rescheduling a vote on the Farm Bill that failed late last week. Even if the bill were to pass the House, it is considered unlikely that it would be able to attract sufficient support in the Senate to advance.

National Skills Coalition will continue to monitor developments on this legislation and provide updates to the field as new information becomes available.