By KIMBERLEE KRUESI
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee is demanding answers from Republican Gov. Bill Lee surrounding a large surplus of a federal welfare program for families with children.

In a letter sent this week, the Memphis Democrat says he wants to know the state's plan for addressing its $732 million welfare reserves. Cohen also wants the state to justify why Tennessee has some of the lowest cash-assistance benefit levels in the United States.

The large surplus of federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds has come under scrutiny after first being flagged last month in a report by the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a conservative think tank.

Lee's spokeswoman Laine Arnold declined to comment on Cohen's letter.

Cohen said Lee's office has five business days to respond.

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