- EnactedJuly 5th, 2019The President signed this bill into law
- The senate has not voted
- The house Passed June 3rd, 2019Roll Call Vote 357 Yea / 55 Nay
Committee on Ways and MeansIntroducedMay 23rd, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 2940?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 2940
In-Depth: Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced this bill to extend funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program and related programs through September 30, 2019.
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) notes that this is only the latest in a series of short-term extensions of current welfare policies. It adds that this bill will likely pass, as most previous similar bills have passed with bipartisan support. However, in December 2018, AEI argued that rather than simply extending TANF at current funding levels, as this bill would do, Democrats should be seeking to reform the program to make it more effective at helping low-income parents return to work and move up the economic ladder.
Lawmakers have sought TANF reforms in both the past and current Congresses. In the 115th Congress, House Republicans introduced a five-year welfare reauthorization bill, the JOBS for Success Act, focused on improving TANF’s effectiveness at helping low-income parents go to work by closing loopholes to the current work requirements, adding a new work outcome accountability system and modestly increasing funding for child care, among other changes. This year, senior Republicans have reintroduced this bill in both the House and Senate. However, Democrats are generally opposed to the JOBS for Success Act, as they dislike that it increases effective work requirements while making what committee Democrats characterize as “zero new investments” in TANF or other programs Democrats would like to expand.
As their own effort to reform TANF, House Democrats introduced the RISE Out of Poverty Act, sponsored by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), in the 115th Congress. Moore’s bill sought to increase TANF funding by approximately $150 billion over 10 years in addition to other significant spending hikes, extend families’ maximum stay on welfare to five or more years and loosen TANF’s work requirements.
This bill has two Republican cosponsors.
Of Note: The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program helps families with children when the parents or other responsible relatives can’t provide for the family’s basic needs. The federal government provides grants to states to run the TANF program to achieve four goals:
- Providing assistance to needy families so children can be cared for in their own homes or in relatives’ homes;
- Ending needy parents’ dependence on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work and marriage;
- Preventing and reducing the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establishing annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing these pregnancies’ incidence; and
- Encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.
Over the 2014-2019 period, Congress has extended TANF 17 times without any significant changes. Consequently, AEI notes, the $16.5 billion TANF block grant — set in 1996 and not adjusted for inflation — has seen a 37% decline in its real value. Additionally, the number of program recipients has shrunk by 80% since 1996.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) notes that TANF direct assistance to families is “at least 20% below its 1996 levels in 36 states, after adjusting for inflation” and benefits remain too low for families relying solely on TANF assistance to make ends meet. The CBPP adds that for 99% of recipients nationally, their benefits’ purchasing power is below 1996 levels, and living on such limited incomes risks exposing children to “excessive levels of hardship and stress” which can negatively affect their health and undermine their development, limiting future economic and social mobility.
- American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
- American Enterprise Institute (AEI) (Context)
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (Context)
Summary by Lorelei Yang
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