TANF EXTENSION ACT OF 2019; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 7
(House of Representatives - January 14, 2019)

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[Pages H531-H534]
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                       TANF EXTENSION ACT OF 2019

  Ms. JUDY CHU of California. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules 
and pass the bill (H.R. 430) to extend the program of block grants to 
States for temporary assistance for needy families and related programs 
through June 30, 2019.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                H.R. 430

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``TANF Extension Act of 

                   JUNE 30, 2019.

       Activities authorized by part A of title IV and section 
     1108(b) of the Social Security Act shall continue through 
     June 30, 2019, in the manner authorized for fiscal year 2018, 
     and out of any money in the Treasury of the United States not 
     otherwise appropriated, there are hereby appropriated such 
     sums as may be necessary for such purpose.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from 
California (Ms. Judy Chu) and the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Smith) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California.

                             General Leave

  Ms. JUDY CHU of California. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that 
all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend 
their remarks and include extraneous material on the bill under 
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from California?
  There was no objection.
  Ms. JUDY CHU of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as 
I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 430, the TANF Extension Act of 
2019. This bipartisan legislation would extend the Temporary Assistance 
for Needy Families program, known as TANF, and the Child Care 
Entitlement to States, or CCES, through June 30, 2019.
  Due to the stalemate in budget negotiations, TANF and CCES funding 
lapsed at the end of 2018. Enacting this legislation will allow the 
Department of Health and Human Services to send States, Tribes, and 
territories TANF and CCES grants for the second quarter of the fiscal 
year, which are now late, and to make on-time payments to States for 
the third quarter.
  States depend on Federal TANF and childcare funding to help level the 
playing field for struggling parents trying to work and support their 
families. These grants help pay for important programs such as 
childcare, transportation, and job training. Funds are also used to 
help cover basic necessities like food, housing, and diapers.
  Right now, our failure to pay for what was promised is hurting State 
budgets, and pretty soon it will begin to affect family budgets as 
  CalWORKs, as my home State of California calls its TANF program, 
provides help to over 50 percent of poor children in California, which 
is over 1 million children, but California has a very small reserve of 
unspent Federal TANF funds to cover the Federal lapse in payment.
  Our reserve is about the level of Federal funding the State will use 
in just over 2 weeks of operating CalWORKs.
  California's counties are currently implementing the changes to 
CalWORKs that we hope will make it even more effective in stabilizing 
families and lifting them out of poverty. Disrupted Federal funding 
would make achieving that goal much harder.
  We need to do far more to help children and families, and States need 
more stability and certainty to operate their programs. This is why the 
first bill that was passed in this new Congress to reopen the 
government included provisions to extend TANF and childcare for 2 
  This bill would also have provided Congress with new data on 
beneficiary sanctions, employment, and poverty outcomes. Unfortunately, 
the Senate has refused to take up that bill, leaving our government in 
a partial shutdown and causing Federal funds for TANF and CCES to 
lapse, as well as payments to the States.
  In the meantime, as the two Chambers continue discussions, this 
legislation will allow us to quickly restore payments and ensure that 
families who rely on TANF and childcare assistance are not collateral 
damage in the Trump shutdown.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support the bill, and I reserve 
the balance of my time.
  Mr. SMITH of Missouri. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 430, the TANF Extension Act of 
2019, which will end the lapse in the TANF program.
  For my home State of Missouri, and specifically my district, 
temporary assistance is a vital lifeline of resources for families. I 
represent one of the most economically distressed regions in the 
country and the poorest congressional district in Missouri. In my 
State, more than 20,000 people and nearly 10,000 families currently 
rely on TANF.
  Mr. Speaker, we need to reauthorize this program. Since TANF was 
created in 1996, funding for the program had never lapsed like this, 
until now. Federal funding of TANF has now lapsed for 2 full weeks.
  TANF has never been tied to a border security debate before, and it 
shouldn't be now. Mr. Speaker, 20,000 people in Missouri need TANF for 
a hand up to get out of poverty and back to work.
  Tax reform created a roaring economy, but our job is not done. 
Americans are no longer asking ``Where are the jobs?'' Instead, 
employers are asking ``Where are the workers?''
  When I meet with farmers and small business owners in southern 
Missouri, they tell me they desperately need more workers.
  We have an economy that is built for growth, but millions of 
Americans are on the sidelines. That is why we need the Temporary 
Assistance for Needy Families program to refocus on the outcome of 
  I hope that, during the 6-month extension provided by this bill, my 
friends on the other side of the aisle will work with us to improve the 
focus of TANF on outcomes so we can stop only measuring the process. 
Let's work together to build on the efforts from last Congress so we 
can help families become self-sufficient through work.
  There is pride in work, and a job is the best way out of poverty. 
When individuals and parents work full-time, the poverty rate drops to 
just 3 percent.
  American taxpayers contribute billions of dollars every year to 
support those who are in need. It is our responsibility to ensure 
taxpayer dollars are being used in the most effective way possible. 
That is why we must reauthorize this program immediately and why I have 
pushed for reforms.
  House Republicans want every person on TANF who is work eligible to 
have an individual plan for how to get back into the workforce. The new 
goal isn't to get someone into a job for 2 weeks. The new goal is to 
get them into a job and keep them there so they can start their career 
and build a better life.

  That means we want to surround Americans with more support to allow 
them to build their lives, like childcare and transportation. That is 
what we will continue to push for as we work on a longer extension.
  What has become clear is that we can do a lot better to address the 
needs of those struggling to get ahead. With this bill, we renew the 
program and set the stage to make additional reforms we know are needed 
to expand the opportunity so that everyone can benefit from strong 
economic growth.
  Reforming TANF to improve the lives of more American families must be 
our priority, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to 
complete this reauthorization.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge support of H.R. 430, and I reserve the balance of 
my time.
  Ms. JUDY CHU of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the 
gentlewoman from Wisconsin (Ms. Moore), an incredible advocate for 
those in need.
  Ms. MOORE. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentlewoman from 
California for yielding.

[[Page H532]]

  Mr. Speaker, I rise to join my colleague from Missouri in asking my 
colleagues to support H.R. 430 and to vote ``yes'' on this legislation.
  Now, this is just a short-term, 6-month extension of the Temporary 
Assistance for Needy Families program because we could not sign off on 
the negotiated 2-year extension from the omnibus. Therefore, the 
program has lapsed, and it is imperative that we move this legislation 
quickly, get it cleared through the House, sent over to the Senate, and 
signed into law.
  Needy Americans are relying on us to do this. There are several 
States that have absolutely no TANF dollars, zero carryover funds to 
insulate against the prospect that this reckless shutdown will persist 
and impact our most vulnerable citizens.
  While my State is not one of the 23 States that have less than one 
quarter of Federal TANF funding in reserve, our reserve is not 
gigantic. At the current spend-down rate of funds in Wisconsin, we are 
projecting that these funds will only last until early May, so this is 
of some urgency.
  Just let me remind you, Mr. Speaker, about the importance of 
extending this program. This bill will allow HHS to send States, 
Tribes, and territories overdue funds that they depend upon to help 
level the playing field for struggling parents trying to work and to 
support their families, tools like childcare assistance, 
transportation, job training, money for basic needs, and services like 
food and diapers.
  I want to remind you, Mr. Speaker, that three-fourths of current TANF 
recipients are children, usually living in poverty with their parents 
or grandparents.
  Mr. Speaker, as a former welfare recipient who rose out of poverty 
with the help of cash assistance, SNAP, and higher education, I 
understand how critically necessary it is for Americans to have access 
to our Nation's safety net known as TANF.
  Mr. Speaker, I will never forget the spring of 1996, when Wisconsin 
Governor Tommy G. Thompson decided to end welfare as we knew it.

                              {time}  1700

  I was a State senator at the time. I stood on the floor and 
filibustered until the wee hours of the morning with 100 amendments. 
Then in the fall of 1996--it was a gigantic error of judgment, in my 
estimation--Congress, on a bipartisan basis, followed Governor 
Thompson's lead and replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children 
with TANF, a program that turned into a block grant, having absolutely 
no connection with people's ability to get work.
  It imposed work requirements, whether there was any viable work there 
or not. It limited educational opportunity for women, thus creating a 
permanent underclass of workers. It does not provide promised childcare 
and training, the very things that are most helpful for helping people 
get employed.
  While this proposal has been adopted by Congress and signed into law, 
I have known, since 1996, that I would spend the rest of my career 
trying to right-size this program and make sure that the program not 
only met people's basic survival-level needs but actually worked toward 
helping people lift out of poverty.
  I am looking forward to this 116th Congress, when we can reenvision 
welfare reform, because this imperfect program needs to continue to 
assist struggling families to meet those basic needs. Forty-three 
million Americans currently live in poverty and some in extreme 
  I remind the Speaker that our Nation is only as strong as its most 
vulnerable population. Instead of criminalizing welfare recipients and 
creating more barriers for the poor, we must help lift them up so that 
they, too, can escape poverty, join the economy, and add to our tax 
  Let's pass this bill, and let's use the next 6 months provided by 
this legislation to work together to enact long-overdue changes to TANF 
that will restore childcare, incentivize education, and move away from 
punitive time limits.
  I ask my colleagues to vote for H.R. 430, and then I urge them to 
join me in reenvisioning the program.
  Mr. SMITH of Missouri. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the 
gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Smith).
  Mr. SMITH of Nebraska. Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate we are here 
today, actually, but I do intend to support this short-term TANF 
  I think it is useful to understand how we got here, because it 
certainly informs where we should be going. While the economy is 
expanding at greater than 3 percent, and the unemployment rate is now 
below 4 percent, we know not everyone is benefiting.
  There are an estimated 67 million working-age American men missing 
from the labor force and 5\1/2\ million youth not in school or not 
working. This, combined with a generation of retiring workers, has left 
employers desperate to fill open jobs.
  Our committee held a series of hearings last spring to learn how 
Congress can help close the jobs gap, the difference between what 
employers need to keep the economy growing and the number of workers in 
the labor force.
  We heard from employers across the country and across industries--
technology in Colorado, manufacturing in Indiana and Ohio, auto plants 
in Michigan, homebuilders in Arizona, and the aerospace industry in 
Kansas. They all expressed the same message: We are hiring, and if you 
are not already proficient, we will pay you while you learn to do the 
  In my own district, the need for workers is a common theme among 
employers. One employer I spoke with recently, whose facility is 
largely automated, told me his biggest impediment to growth is a lack 
of people to run and operate the machinery.
  In addition to the needs of employers and our economy, we also heard 
about the dignity of work from the individuals reconnected to the 
workforce, whether recently out of poverty or even prison. We heard how 
these men and women were better able to provide for their families and 
engage with their communities because of the social and monetary 
support their efforts to advance in the workforce provided. We want 
everyone to have that opportunity.
  TANF has an important role to play in addressing the labor shortage, 
and changes are needed to fit the program to today's economy. More than 
20 years after TANF was created, the program is not living up to 
expectations, and many States have lost sight of what it was intended 
to do: provide short-term support while people get back into the 
  Mr. Speaker, I am proud of the work we did in the House last year. We 
held seven hearings, including a legislative hearing, and we marked up 
legislation aimed at improving the program. Many of the proposals in 
our bill, the JOBS for Success Act, were supported by both parties' 
witnesses as well: one-on-one casework; measuring outcomes; refocusing 
the program on those most in need of assistance; and ensuring States 
could use their resources to both help people get to work, and, just as 
importantly, stay in the workforce and succeed.
  Unfortunately, no one in the Senate took action on TANF until late 
last year. When they finally did deliver a proposal, it merely doubled 
down on, or attempted to paper over, the ongoing problems of TANF, 
which discourage States from helping their beneficiaries, rather than 
making a serious effort to help reconnect the population most in need.
  Important progress has been made, both since 1996 and in the past 
year, but we are not done. I encourage my colleagues to support this 
extension and to continue working to refocus TANF to improve the lives 
of millions of American families.
  More importantly, once this bill is signed, I encourage everyone, 
House and Senate, to come together and work with us to achieve 
solutions that help to connect Americans on the sidelines of the 
economy with the employers who desperately need them and to stay in the 
workforce long term.
  We all know a check from the government is not the way out of 
poverty. Getting into and advancing in the workforce is.
  Ms. JUDY CHU of California. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 

  Mr. SMITH of Missouri. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the 
gentlewoman from Indiana (Mrs. Walorski).
  Mrs. WALORSKI. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 430, the 
TANF Extension Act of 2019, which extends the authorization of the 
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, TANF,

[[Page H533]]

program through June 30, while we finish up our work on a long-term 
  Our safety net is essential to helping people who fall on hard times 
get back up on their feet, but, too often, it becomes a web that traps 
people in the cycle of poverty. One of the keys to breaking that cycle 
is human interaction, rather than treating people and recipients like 
another number on a government spreadsheet.
  It takes people on the front lines of the fight against poverty to 
make sure we are looking at the root causes of the problem and actually 
doing something to help people across the country build out and up on 
the economic ladder out of poverty. Those in the trenches fighting 
poverty need the flexibility to develop innovative solutions tailored 
to local needs that will empower individuals to move to work and to 
achieve the American Dream.
  Over these next couple of months, we have a great opportunity to work 
together on a long-term extension of TANF that makes commonsense 
reforms to the program to ensure no one gets left behind on the 
  Right now, the status quo is not working. But by focusing on 
workforce development, measuring work outcomes, and requiring States to 
engage with recipients at an individual level, we can and we will move 
people out of poverty, off TANF, and onto the road to success.
  I thank Chairman Neal and Ranking Member Brady for their work on this 
issue. I look forward to working with them and my other colleagues on 
the Ways and Means Committee on a multiyear TANF extension.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
  Ms. JUDY CHU of California. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
  Mr. SMITH of Missouri. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
  Mr. Speaker, as you have heard today, there is more that can be and 
should be done to address the needs of those struggling to get ahead. 
With this bill, we secure the additional time to reform and make the 
changes we know are needed to expand opportunity and help more families 
move ahead.
  We have made considerable progress identifying the challenges and the 
solutions, but now we need to finish our work. Let's pass this 
extension and work together to complete this reauthorization for the 
people we serve.
  Again, I urge support of H.R. 430, and I yield back the balance of my 
  Ms. JUDY CHU of California. Mr. Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues 
to support this simple bipartisan legislation to allow us to meet our 
commitments to State governments and to families in need across this 
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to voice my support for 
H.R. 430, the``TANF Extension Act of 2019,'' which extends the 
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and related programs.
  The bill authorizes activities outlined in part A of title IV and 
section 1108(b) of the Social Security Act to continue through June 30, 
2019, in the manner authorized for fiscal year 2018.
  This extension is necessary so society's most vulnerable do not fall 
through the cracks.
  The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides 
critical funding to states' anti-poverty efforts.
  It helps ensure that families in poverty with children can meet their 
children's basic needs.
  The TANF program, which is time limited, assists families with 
children when the parents or other responsible relatives cannot provide 
for the family's basic needs.
  The Federal government provides grants to States to run the TANF 
  These State TANF programs are designed to accomplish four goals:
  To provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared 
for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives;
  To end the dependency of needy parents on government benefits by 
promoting job preparation, work, and marriage;
  To prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and 
establish annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing the 
incidence of these pregnancies; and
  To encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.
  States have broad flexibility to carry out their programs.
  The States, not the Federal government, decide on the design of the 
program, the type and amount of assistance payments, the range of other 
services to be provided, and the rules for determining who is eligible 
for benefits.
  These social safety net programs provide necessary government 
assistance to help Americans families maintain a basic standard of 
living, and are a safety net for the poorest of the poor.
  Millions of Americans, despite working two jobs, depend on these 
programs just to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads for 
their families.
  In addition, the vast majority of full-time workers live paycheck to 
  In fact, 70 percent of Americans rely on at least one means tested 
federal program throughout their lives.
  America, one of the richest countries in the world, should be able to 
help families caught in, to use the celebrated LBJ biographer Robert 
Caro's famous phrase, the ``tentacles of circumstance.''
  However, we have an Administration that is sensitive to the plight of 
every day Americans.
  This Administration seeks to implement an agenda that reveals a 
patently racist and inaccurate portrayal of poor people as lazy 
``Welfare Queens'' who would rather depend on the government than pull 
themselves up by their bootstraps, but nothing could be further from 
the reality that millions of Americans face.
  Mr. Speaker, the President should know that it is unreasonable and it 
is cruel to expect the poorest people to pull themselves up by their 
bootstraps when they do not have boots.
  Our nation's social safety net programs already fail to help all of 
the families in need:
  Only 1 in 4 poor families with children receive TANF;
  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) only provides 
$1.40/per meal; and
  Housing assistance reaches just 1 in 5 eligible families.
  That is because the federal government has failed to raise the 
minimum wage in almost a decade, so even if you work a full-time 
minimum wage job, you are still living in poverty.
  Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are here to tell the 
American people, do not be fooled.
  Donald Trump says this is about a ``poverty trap,'' but the real trap 
is not raising the minimum wage.
  Employers should be highly motivated to pay their employees a fair 
amount so that every American can enjoy the opportunity to live with 
dignity, with proper nutrition and proper health care.
  A salary that is not commensurate with the current cost of living 
prevents people from enjoying life with dignity, and that is NOT what 
the American dream is about.
  The President opposes increasing the minimum wage and eliminating 
labor protections for middle and lower income workers in the African 
American community.
  Mr. Speaker, raising the minimum wage to just $12 per hour would save 
$53 billion in SNAP benefits alone.
  Wage gaps are larger today than they were in 1979.
  For example, African American men's average hourly wages were 22.2 
percent lower than those of white men in 1979 and declined to 31 
percent lower by 2015.
  Young African American women have been hardest hit since 2000.
  Average wealth for white families is seven times higher than average 
wealth for African American families.
  Worse still, median white wealth (wealth for the family in the exact 
middle of the overall distribution) is twelve times higher than median 
African American wealth.
  Wage gaps are growing primarily because of discrimination and racial 
differences in skills and worker characteristics.
  Declining unionization has also had a role in the growing black-white 
wage gap, particularly for men newly joining the workforce.
  African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the 
growing gap between pay and productivity.
  Not only are the President's policies divisive along racial and 
cultural lines, they also serve to further increase economic inequality 
due to their clear design in favor of the wealthiest among us at the 
expense of everyone else.
  Trump's billionaire tax heist robs the U.S. Treasury of $1.5 trillion 
in resources that could be invested in economic growth in underserved 
  The President has proposed doubling down on the war on drugs, which 
drains the African American labor pool.
  The President has taken every opportunity to harm health care for 
African-Americans from sabotaging the American Care Act to ending 
Medicaid as we know it.
  Trump also wants you to believe that he wants a bipartisan 
infrastructure plan.
  Do not be fooled.
  Trump's review of ``welfare programs'' is an immoral attempt to gut 
the programs that provide a basic standard of living for Americans 
struggling to make ends meet, all to pay for

[[Page H534]]

massive tax cuts to himself and the richest 1 percent.
  Instead, he should raise wages and invest in job training programs to 
prepare Americans for the work of the future.
  Mr. Speaker, our nation still has a long way to go before we achieve 
economic equality for all its citizens.
  The President and Congressional Republicans should work with 
Democrats to put more money in the pockets of hardworking Americans.
  At the end of the day, our constituents should be able to support 
their children with one full-time job.
  Ultimately, we need to give families the tools they need to rise out 
of poverty, not undercut programs that keep them afloat.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentlewoman from California (Ms. Judy Chu) that the House suspend the 
rules and pass the bill, H.R. 430.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.