Congressman Cohen Demands Answers on Unspent Funds for Low-Income Families

November 6, 2019
Press Release
In letter to Governor Lee, he questions if Tennessee has chosen not to help needy families


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today wrote to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, demanding answers regarding the state’s decision to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars to help low-income families through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.

Tennessee has the 10th highest poverty rate in the nation.

In his letter, Congressman Cohen wrote: 

“When 15.3 percent of Tennesseans are living in poverty, it is inexcusable for the state to withhold millions of federal dollars allocated to help this exact population. At best, this has resulted in Tennessee’s gross mismanagement of federal dollars; at worst, Tennessee has deliberately chosen not to assist needy families.

“According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in fiscal year 2018, Tennessee spent only $21 million of its $190 million federal allocation on TANF programs. This means $170 million in federal dollars went unspent last year alone. As a result, Tennessee has a documented total of $571 million in unspent federal TANF dollars through FY 2018. The Beacon Center of Tennessee reported the unobligated federal TANF balance through FY 2019 at $733 million.”

See the entire letter here.