(Washington, D.C.) Today, a coalition of women's advocates and actors Danny Glover and Tim Robbins came together at a Senate press conference to support Senator Patty Murray's "Secure and Healthy Families Act" (S.2876)

Congress needs to reauthorize Temporary Aid to Needy Families this year, and Murray's legislation is designed to help vulnerable families succeed.

Senator Murray's remarks follow:

I want to thank everyone who has come here today to speak out for so many women and children who don't have a voice as Congress debates their future.

Throughout our country, there are families are struggling in silence. They don't make newspaper headlines, or appear on the evening news, but they're working as hard as they can to keep their heads above water.

This session, Congress will determine whether those families get the help they need, and the stakes couldn't be higher. Unfortunately, with the economy struggling across the country, many states are cutting back their support to deal with budget deficits. Congress needs to update the way we help families in need, and that's why I wrote the Secure and Healthy Families Act.

In this very tough economic climate, Americans are losing jobs at an alarming rate. Since January of last year, more than 2 million private sector jobs have been lost, and long-term unemployment has more than doubled. One job can mean the difference between building a bright future, and struggling just to make it to the next day.

I know the story well. When I was fourteen years old, my mom, dad, six brothers and sisters were doing well. We didn't have a lot of money, but my worries were like most teenagers - what I was going to wear tomorrow. But when I turned 15, life changed dramatically - my dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. In a few short years, my dad couldn't work any more. My mom had to take care of him, raise our family, and get a job to put food on the table. She did find a job, but it didn't pay near enough to support seven kids and a husband with growing medical bills.

By the time I was 19, what to wear was no longer my biggest concern. I thought I might have to leave college to return home, get a job, and help raise my brothers and sisters.

Without warning and through no fault of our own, our family had fallen on hard times. Fortunately, we live in a country where the government didn't just say "tough luck." It extended a helping hand to us in hard times.

For a time, our family relied on food stamps. They were meager, but they kept food on the table while we figured things out. To get a better-paying job, my mom got support from the government, attended a two-year program and was able to get a degree in accounting. And as a result, she got a better paying job.

Because we live in a country that put some energy into making sure all kids have an opportunity to learn, my twin sister, my older brother and I were able to stay in college through Pell grants and student loans. And my younger brothers and sisters were able to stay in school because we live in a country that values free, public education.

We had the support we needed -- whether it was food, training for a better job, or help to pay for college, and an education so we could succeed. That help was the difference between seven kids who might not have graduated from high school or college -- and the seven adults who now contribute back to this country by being a firefighter, a lawyer, a computer programmer, a sportswriter, a homemaker, a junior high school teacher, and a United States Senator. In my book, that was a good investment.

Now, this congress will decide if other families will get the help they need. That's why we need to update TANF so that it gives families a path to independence. Welfare reform shouldn't be about crossing people off a list, but about helping people crossover into good-paying jobs.

My Safe and Healthy Families Act will help teen parents find a safe living arrangement, and will help other teens avoid pregnancy in the first place. It will reward families who are caring for a chronically ill or disabled child, and it will support victims of domestic violence. And we must do more - access to education and training, more child care funding, restoring benefits to legal immigrants will make all the difference.

When my family fell on hard times, our country offered a helping hand. Today, as a United States Senator, I want to make sure that all families get the help they need.

I believe together, we can pass a Welfare reform bill that works for America's families.

So let me thank Danny Glover, Tim Robbins, Cathy Rogers, and everyone who has come together to give those who don't have a voice a chance to reach their dreams.