Democrats Oppose Harmful Work Requirements that Take Away Benefits

WASHINGTON – TODAY, the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a hearing entitled, “Strengthening Access and Accountability to Work in Welfare Programs.” Low-wage workers often rely on federal programs, such as SNAP, TANF and Medicaid, to help meet their basic needs and maintain employment.

“Research shows that most low-income people on these programs are already working,” said Ranking Member Susan Davis, Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development. “The federal minimum wage is $7.25, which is below the national poverty level for a family of three. We need to have a discussion about how we can better serve our families in poverty. Workforce development services, as we know from past outcomes, play a critical role in helping to successfully move people into better jobs.”

Work requirements do not increase employment—they cut off access to critical support. For the majority of beneficiaries who are already employed, cumbersome work requirements only serve as a hurdle and prevent access to benefits and supports. Moreover, for those struggling to find a job, work requirements that cut off access to health coverage or food do not improve employment opportunities.

“People generally want to work and support their families. Federal programs can support them in that goal by expanding access to workforce development programs and by improving efficient access to SNAP and Medicaid,” said Ms. Hahn, Senior Fellow at the Labor, Human Services and Population Center, Urban Institute. “But expanding work requirements for SNAP and Medicaid runs the risk of undermining the employment and skill-development goals of the workforce development system while denying basic health care and food to adults and children who need it.”

Rather than limiting access to support through work requirements, Congress should boost wages and make stronger investments in our nation’s workforce development and work support programs that help hard-working Americans struggling to make ends meet. Despite Republicans’ ongoing attacks on working people and families, Committee Democrats are dedicated to putting forth sensible solutions, like the Raise the Wage Act of 2017, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024 and would put $144 billion in the pocket of workers.

OPENING STATEMENT: Ranking Member Susan Davis, Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee

WITNESS STATEMENT: Heather Hahn, Senior Fellow, Labor, Human Services and Population Center, Urban Institute


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