- EnactedJanuary 24th, 2019The President signed this bill into law
- The senate Passed on a voice vote
- The house Passed on a voice vote
Committee on Ways and MeansIntroducedJanuary 10th, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 430?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 430
In-Depth: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) introduced this bill to extend TANF funding through June 30, 2019. The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities reports that currently, the government shutdown has made TANF funds unavailable:
“Currently, funds are not available for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The majority of the recipients of these funds are children. In the interim, states must cover the cost and states are doing their best to pull together unspent federal funds.”
The National Association of Counties (NACo), which supports TANF reauthorization, contends that TANF provides essential funding to states — but it opposes short-term extensions, such as this one, and argues that TANF funding should be increased annually to keep pace with inflation:
“TANF provides funding to states to help families reduce welfare dependency and allows states to design and implement the program according to their needs… Long-term reauthorization of TANF will provide program continuity. Short-term extensions create uncertainty and difficulty in planning and implementing long-term program changes… TANF funding should be increased annually by an amount commensurate with the rate of inflation to ensure that the program’s actual value does not decrease each year.”
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) argues that TANF in its current incarnation is an unsuccessful program that needs significant reworking:
“Some policymakers have pointed to TANF as a model for reforming other programs, but the facts suggest otherwise. TANF provides a greatly weakened safety net that does far less than AFDC did to alleviate poverty and hardship. Furthermore, TANF’s work programs rarely move parents into jobs that lift their families out of poverty. TANF’s early years witnessed unprecedented declines in the number of families receiving cash assistance — and declines in the number of families in poverty. However, the TANF caseload has failed to adequately respond to changes in need… The national TANF caseload has declined by 69 percent over the last two decades, even though poverty has not declined nearly as much. Because TANF reaches so many fewer families than AFDC did, it provides substantially less protection against poverty and deep poverty. In 1996, 68 families received TANF for every 100 families in poverty; in 2016, only 23 families received TANF for every 100 families in poverty. The share of children living in deep poverty (defined as living in families with incomes below half the poverty line) has increased since welfare reform was implemented, and research suggests that the loss of TANF benefits contributed to that growth. TANF benefits are too low to lift many families out of poverty, but they can help reduce the depth of poverty. TANF has proven far less effective at lifting families out of deep poverty than AFDC, mostly because fewer families receive TANF benefits than received AFDC benefits. (The erosion in the value of TANF benefits has also contributed.) While AFDC lifted more than 2 million children out of deep poverty in 1995, TANF lifted only 635,000 children out of deep poverty in 2010.”
This bill has the support of one bipartisan cosponsor, Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX).
Of Note: The TANF block grant program was created by Congress through the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, as part of the federal effort to “end welfare as we know it” during the Clinton administration. It replaced AFDC, which had provided cash welfare to poor families with children since 1935.
TANF assists families with children when the parents or other responsible relatives can’t provide for the family’s basic needs. The federal program provides grants to states to run TANF. These state TANF programs have four goals:
Providing assistance to needy families so that children can be cared for in their own, or 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
States have broad flexibility to carry out TANF programs by deciding on the programs’ design, the type and amount of assistance payments, the range of services to be provided, and the rules for determining eligibility.
The basic TANF block grant has been set at $16.5 billion each year since 1996. Its funds have been used by states for a variety of services and supports, such as: Income assistance (including wage supplements for working-poor families), child care, education and job training, transportation, aid to children at risk of abuse and neglect, and a variety of other services to help low-income families. Some states also use TANF funds to provide a safety net and connect families to work.
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Medvedkov)