Congressman LaHood intros H.R. 5838 to reform TANF program, strengthen workforce

By Blake Schnitker on May 18 at 7:53am

A Peoria-based Congressman has introduced legislation that aims at strengthening support for needy families while increasing avenues for people to enter the workforce.

Illinois’ 18th District Congressman Darin LaHood introduced H.R. 5838, also referred to as the Improving Access to Work Act, in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. The Improving Access to Work Act looks at reinforcing programs through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF program.

Congressman LaHood explains how the TANF program currently operates, and how H.R. 5838 would help reform the program in hopes of developing a stronger workforce.

“TANF is a welfare program that provides assistance temporarily to needy families, so poor women with children, elderly folks that need assistance and people with disabilities. The original intent of the program was to be a social safety net and to be temporary. TANF was put in place in 1996, and what our bill does is (try) to move able-bodied, working people from TANF to the workforce,” says LaHood.

As for some of the other aspects of the TANF program that H.R. 5838 hopes to reform and improve upon deals with technical education. LaHood goes into further detail regarding how his bill would address some of those issues.

“Under the TANF program, there is a provision in there that allows for getting people the necessary technical skills and education so that they can go out and be in the workforce. However, the recipients of TANF have not spent this money in the right way. So this money has been devoted to go to transportation funding, it’s gone to monitoring of sex offenders, it’s gone to other purposes that it wasn’t originally intended for. So what our bill does is it says, ‘we want this money to be spent in an appropriate way, and if it’s not, you’re going to be penalized,'” LaHood explains.

According to LaHood, another positive aspect of H.R. 5838 is the fact that he says it will not have any impact on the ways TANF is able to provide assistance to families that are in need. The Congressman says this legislation is a common-sense bill that would capitalize on recent record-setting job growth and declines in employment.