Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) announced his intention on Aug. 19 to introduce a bill that would offer poor Americans a pathway toward independence from government assistance.
The Promoting Assistance with Transitional Help Act, which Reed is calling the PATH Act, would address the disincentives to work that exist in the current federal welfare system and provide encouragement for people to earn more money and strive to become self-sufficient. Reed plans to introduce the legislation when Congress returns in September.
“I’ve heard and seen a real frustration with the current welfare system that actually provides disincentives for the working poor to earn more,” Reed said. “The current federal welfare system discourages the working poor from accepting a full-time job, a raise, or even a bonus, which only furthers the cycle of dependency. Our goal with this legislation is to offer help and care for those who are doing everything in their power to get back on their own feet. We need to be encouraging low-income individuals to earn more, not penalize them unfairly when they do.”
Reed said his bill would alter how states offer funds under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Family program. Under the current TANF program, states are able to provide money to beneficiaries beyond the five-year limit for the program and count those benefits toward their Maintenance of Effort requirement to receive the TANF grant.
“TANF is designed to be a temporary program to encourage self-sufficiency but with states counting indefinite cash payments toward the federal program, they are effectively trapping recipients in a cycle of dependency,” Reed said. “This legislation will end the practice of indefinite cash payments to welfare recipients to help individuals in poverty bridge the gap between welfare dependency and economic self-sufficiency.”