Congress Takes on TANF

Mar 12, 2010

On March 11, 2010, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support heard testimony about the role of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in providing assistance to families with little or no income. In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) expressed concern that “only 22% of poor children receive assistance from TANF,” and called for an extension of the TANF emergency fund as an essential first step in providing a helping hand for those who need it most. The chairman also called for a broader discussion about how the TANF law might be changed to assist more needy families.

Witnesses included Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI); Carmen Nazario, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Children and Families; Kay Brown of the U.S. Government Accountability Office; Russell Sykes, on behalf of the National Association of State TANF Administrators; Georgetown University Law Center Professor Peter Edelman; and Robert Rector, on behalf of the Heritage Foundation.

To view video of Congressmen McDermott’s opening statement or to read the witness’ testimony, go to

NASW is advocating for TANF to be reauthorized this year. Our recommendations include that Congress increase supports for working families, eliminate education barriers, address employment barriers, provide a child poverty reduction bonus, restore immigrant eligibility, and enhance the capacity of the welfare system infrastructure. You can view a report on TANF at

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