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Support TANF Emergency Fund

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities via the Center for Law and Social Policy

“As we mentioned in our last update, over the next several weeks, members of the House and Senate will be trying to come to agreement on a jobs bill to extend unemployment insurance benefits, along with other time-sensitive issues of critical importance to states. As the current extension of UI and COBRA benefits expires June 2, the hope is that a jobs bill would be passed to extend them before Congress breaks for Memorial Day recess. As we noted in our April 21 e-mail (copied below), we hope that an extension of the TANF Emergency Fund will be included in this bill. (Although the TANF Emergency Fund extension has already passed the House as part of a Small Business Jobs Bill, that bill is not likely to be taken up immediately in the Senate and shifting to the long-term UI extension vehicle is the better route to quick extension of the TANF Emergency Fund.)

In our April 21 e-mail, we asked that you contact House members to ask that the TANF ECF extension be added to the Senate Jobs bill that includes the UI extenders. This e-mail is to add one more action item for state advocates: communicate to Democratic Senate Finance Committee members and Senate Democratic leadership the importance of including the TANF Emergency Fund extension in the upcoming jobs bill. Specific steps to take are:

* If your state has a Democratic member on the Senate Finance Committee, please weigh in with the member on the importance of including the TANF ECF extension in the currently-in-process jobs bill that would extend UI and COBRA through the end of the year. Democratic Finance Committee members have likely already supported the TANF Emergency Fund through signing onto the Kerry letter or voting for the Kerry/Murray amendment (or both), but it is still important thank members for their support and urge them to push for this opportunity for extension.

* If your state has a member in Democratic leadership, please weigh in with their office to urge using this vehicle for extension of the TANF Emergency Fund.

* Even if you do not have a Democratic Senator on the Finance Committee or in leadership, if extension of the TANF Emergency Fund is important to your state, you can ask your Democratic Senator to weigh in with Finance Committee or leadership colleagues.

Be sure to communicate how and why the extension of the TANF Emergency Fund is important to your state and how your state is using this funding.

Additional Resources:

1) A new CBPP paper includes statements of three key individuals supporting extension of the Fund – Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics; Karen Lee, President of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies; and Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi. The paper is available at http://www.cbpp.org/files/5-3-10tanf.pdf .

2) Below we have included the e-mail that we sent to you on April 21 (with a longer and more detailed description of where things stand and steps to take.) This is solely for your convenience to save you trouble of digging it up if you are interested; you do not need to re-read it and can stop here.

Text of April 21st e-mail:

We are entering what we hope is the last and final stretch of a successful effort to extend the TANF Emergency Fund through September 30, 2011.? Please read this entire e-mail as actions that are needed are discussed at the end.

Here is where we are in our efforts to pass an extension and expansion of the TANF Emergency Fund. The extension of the Emergency Fund passed the House last month as part of a small business jobs bill (H.R. 4849). Democratic leaders in the Senate plan to move their own version of this bill during the month of May or later in the summer.? Yet, as it turns out, the best shot for the TANF EF is not on this bill, but on another jobs-related measure.

While this may be a bit confusing, we need to explain a new “twist” to the TANF EF strategy.? As further explained below, the latest tactical plan from our leaders on the Hill is to add the TANF extension to the larger Senate-passed? jobs or “extenders”? bill that would extend the UI/COBRA/FMAP provisions from the Recovery Act (H.R. 4213).? This legislation is expected to be finalized and sent to the President before Memorial Day, while the small business jobs legislation will have to wait for the next work period to move towards enactment.

The House and Senate recently passed a two-month extension of UI and COBRA benefits through June 2, 2010, which is designed to give policymakers time to work out a final agreement on securing necessary offsets and making other? modifications to the Senate’s jobs bill.? So this gives us a little time – and yet one more opportunity- to press the case for extending and expanding the TANF EF.

Here is where we are with legislation to extend UI/COBRA – and the TANF ECF:

The Senate passed a large jobs bill in March that included the extension of UI/COBRA/FMAP through the end of this year. On that bill, the Senate voted on an amendment (Murray/Kerry) to extend the TANF Emergency Fund and provide funding for summer jobs, but the amendment failed.? Four Democrats voted against the amendment because the amendment was not fully paid for (i.e., it did not fully comply with Pay Go).? No Republicans supported the amendment.

The House and the Senate are now negotiating to craft a final jobs bill that they can both agree on and get enough votes to pass.?? The current thinking of key policymakers involved with this bill is that the process would unfold as follows:?? the House will take up the jobs bill once House and Senate leaders agree to offsets that are needed to pay for the extension of expiring tax provisions included in this bill.? Those offsets, along with other modifications including adding the extension of the TANF Emergency Fund would be added to the Senate long-term UI/COBRA/FMAP extension bill by the House, and then adopted by the Senate, as amended in the House.?? In other words, the House would effectively send back to the Senate a “pre-conferenced”, negotiated agreement and the Senate would then pass the bill in that form. None of this can occur without a House-Senate agreement that has been vetted with those who supported the Senate jobs bill in March to ensure we have sufficient votes to pass this amended version of the bill.

This process also ensures there is no separate vote on the TANF EF- it would simply become one provision in the larger jobs/extenders bill. The Democrats in the Senate who voted against the amendment to extend the TANF Emergency Fund previously have indicated that it was only because the amendment was not fully paid for that they voted against it, not because they are opposed to extending the Fund.? Given that the House will pass a bill that fully offsets the tax extenders and any provisions the House adds to the bill -? like the TANF EF?? our hope is that these Democrats will not have a problem with having this provision in the UI/COBRA extension bill.?? We have reason to believe that for a few of the Senate Republicans who voted against the amendment to add the TANF Emergency Fund, their problem was the particular offset rather than the substance of extending the Fund.

Given that the temporary extension of unemployment benefits expires on June 2nd, Democrats’ goal is to complete a bill before Congress goes out of session for its Memorial Day recess.? The closer we get to June, the more likely we are to begin to see states and counties ramping down their subsidized employment programs and making plans to implement benefit cuts so timing is really critical.? Also, if the Congress fails to pass a jobs bill that takes us through the rest of the year, it’s quite likely that all the Congress will be able to pass are a series of short-term extensions of expiring unemployment benefits.

Things to Do Now

1) Contact your Representatives to request that s/he contact Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer and Representative Sander Levin (Chair, Ways and Means) to ask them to add the TANF ECF provision that was included in the House Small Business Bill to the Senate Jobs Bill when that bill is brought to the House floor in May.

2) Ask your state agencies or Governor’s offices to weigh in with the same request

A Reminder of the Ask

(1) One-year extension of TANF Emergency Fund – through September 30, 2011

(2) Additional money–$2.5 billion for 2011

(3) New maximum allocation that a state can receive for FY 2011? – equal to at least 30? percent of their TANF block grant amount

(4) Urgency — extension is needed now; if not extended by June 1st, states will stop making new placements and begin preparations for ending nearly all subsidies by September 30, 2010. The closer we get to June 1st, the more likely we are to begin to see states and counties ramping down their subsidized employment programs and making plans to implement benefit cuts so timing is really critical.?

One Response

  1. TANF is a necessary program offered by the US Government. This needs to be supported by the people so we can continue to offer the needy aid.

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