TANF Emergency Fund Has Major Backing - But Not Yet From Congress

Nov 22, 2010

New polling data released by the Half in Ten campaign show that an overwhelming majority of voters, 79 percent, support extending the TANF Emergency Fund. Voters nationwide were asked by Hart Research Associates about their views on poverty, including the TANF Emergency Fund and deficit reduction.

The TANF EF expired earlier this year on September 30. States used it to provide subsidized jobs, mostly in the private sector, for nearly 250,000 otherwise unemployed parents and youth. States also used the Emergency Fund to cover the costs of rising caseloads, to help families stave off crises and to help non-profits that address basic needs (such as food banks) to meet the rising demand for services.  

Because of Congress's inaction, many states have either ended or scaled back their programs and tens of thousands of Americans have been hurt.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Nearly four out of five voters, or 79 percent, support continuing the TANF Emergency Fund.
  • A strong majority of at least 75 percent in each region favored its continuation.
  • There was unanimous support politically - Democrats (90 percent), Independents (77 percent), and Republicans (70 percent).
  • Support cut across socioeconomic lines - non-college grads (80 percent) and college graduates (79 percent).

Additionally, nearly half of voters surveyed have a close family member living in poverty. 78 percent think Congress should not cut programs that serve low-income people in order to cut the deficit.

Public support is behind the TANF Emergency Fund and other programs serving low-income families. The emergency fund has been a valuable tool in promoting assistance to vulnerable families, and Congress must extend it. 

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