WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following the State of Ohio’s request for permission to implement the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program in a more flexible and comprehensive manner, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Sens. Angus King (I-ME), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to introduce a bipartisan bill that would help lift Americans out of poverty by reauthorizing and reforming TANF to reflect changes in the American economy and the challenges facing poor families seeking to work their way up the economic ladder. The Enhancing and Modernizing Pathways to Opportunity Through Work, Education, and Responsibility (EMPOWER) Act would modernize TANF to provide more targeted support for low-income families and their children, connect more adults to the education and job training that can lift them out of poverty, and encourage states to focus on delivering results for low-income families and children.
“The current TANF program has failed to adequately address the issues that millions of Americans are facing in this country and we must do more to help families in need,” Senator Brown said. “This legislation will give the state of Ohio the flexibility it needs to help more Ohio families make ends meet and secure good-paying jobs.”
In October, Brown led Democratic members of the Ohio congressional delegation in a letter requesting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant a waiver submitted by Governor John Kasich exempting the State of Ohio from certain federal TANF rules that can prevent recipients from finding meaningful long-term employment. The EMPOWER Act would provide additional flexibility for states to effectively help families living in poverty.
When TANF was enacted, it served 68 of every 100 families in poverty. Today, it only helps 23 of every 100 families. The EMPOWER Act would reform and redesign the TANF program to hold states accountable for focusing on families that need assistance the most, engaging TANF beneficiaries, and transitioning them to long-term independence. Specifically, the legislation would:
Specifically, the legislation would:
To read a section-by-section summary of the EMPOWER Act, click HERE.