On Tuesday, November 17, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources held the last of a series of hearings on welfare and human services funding programs with a focus on how other countries design their programs. In announcing an end to the series of subcommittee hearings Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA) said, “While welfare reform in the United States spurred other countries to undertake their own reforms, in many cases other countries have now gone well beyond the reforms we made in the 1990s. For example, other countries have implemented policies such as requiring work or work preparation in exchange for benefits in multiple programs, revising eligibility standards to target benefits to those most in need, consolidating or coordinating programs to simplify their systems, working with non-governmental groups to deliver key benefits and services, and holding programs accountable for achieving real outcomes.”
Two weeks earlier the Subcommittee had held another hearing titled, Better Coordinating Welfare Programs to Serve Families in Need. In that hearing Boustany said that, “A number of these programs, like TANF, SSI, and child welfare, are under the jurisdiction of this subcommittee…And many others involve other committees, complicating our efforts at better coordination. But we have to start somewhere. This hearing will give us a chance to review this array of programs, understand the challenges created by their sheer number, and review some state efforts to rationalize the services they provide. That understanding will lay the groundwork for future efforts to modernize and streamline or, at the very least, better coordinate these programs …”
The Subcommittee had held a hearing on a series of TANF reforms. Those hearings and the legislation under consideration had some bipartisan support around issues of work requirements, state spending and new efforts to help those on assistance. Last summer there was hope for bipartisan movement from the House but that planning has stalled out—at least for now.
These issues are certain to be impacted by changes to the subcommittee. As a result of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS)’s departure from the full committee has set in motion a series of changes in various subcommittees. The Human resources subcommittee will have a new Chair as well as several new faces on the republican side.