House Republicans plan to advance a welfare-reform bill that requires recipients to find and retain jobs, saying too many states allow potential workers to remain idle.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady scheduled a Wednesday mark up of the JOBS for Success Act, which requires states to describe how they’re using federal funds to link people with work, rather than just detailing how much is spent.
Welfare funding would also be oriented toward things like child care and job training.
House GOP leaders are pitching it as the final plank of the 2016 agenda they rolled out during the last election cycle, when Republicans snatched every lever of political power in D.C.
Though an Obamacare repeal bill died in the Senate, they’ve been able to role back regulations, boost military spending and slash taxes, leaving welfare reform as a key agenda item.
“We have a booming economy because of our new tax code,” said Mr. Brady, Texas Republican. “Our local business need more workers, but too many people are on the sidelines.”
Bill sponsors are particularly concerned about able-bodied men. They said about 7 million of them could be in the workforce, but aren’t.
The JOBS Act would rename the program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — a landmark reform enacted under President Bill Clinton in 1996 — and extend it for five years.
The program provides financial assistance to needy families, with the aim of getting families off the federal dole, but “a lot of states have strayed from the intent of the reforms under that law,” Mr. Brady said.
Under the new bill, states must engage directly with every welfare recipient and devise a game plan for getting them into jobs.
“No one will be ignored,” said Rep. Adrian Smith, Nebraska Republican. “There will be a plan for success and a plan for self-sufficiency.”
The bill will also establish a “dashboard” that details which job-placement strategies actually work.
The push is part of broader GOP efforts to highlight the role of work in getting people off of government assistance.
President Trump is pushing for work requirements under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, as part of the farm bill. That bill hit a snag on the House floor, however, amid a conservative rebellion over an unrelated immigration effort.
The administration is also letting states condition benefits under Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor, on seeking a job, going to school or volunteering in the community.
“These reforms can be used to help administer work requirements in other programs,” Mr. Brady said.