Rep. Tom Reed announced Monday the Promoting Assistance with Transitional Help Act, or the PATH Act, a bill he will introduce in Washington when Congress returns in September. The PATH Act takes aim at the inherent disincentives in the federal welfare system and encourages individuals to earn more income and move toward self-sufficiency.
"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. That's a real problem. 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."
Currently under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, states are able to provide cash to beneficiaries beyond the five-year limit for the program and count those benefits toward their Maintenance of Effort requirement for receiving the TANF grant. By limiting the use of MOE cash payments beyond the five year program to transitional assistance, beneficiaries are given a hand up in improving their economic status rather than a limitless handout.
"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 continued. "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. There is a fundamental problem with the current web of programs that doesn't provide proper care for recipients and we stand with those who are trying to better themselves."
The legislation does not impact what benefits recipients receive, it instead reaffirms to states that the purpose of the federal program is to be temporary.
Reed was also set to hold a social welfare roundtable Tuesday to meet with area public officials and community stakeholders for a discussion of anti-poverty and social welfare programs. The roundtable is part of Reed's initiative to make welfare reform a larger part of the national conversation. County social service commissioners, school officials and local elected officials are slated to attend.