Fully Funded TANF Supplemental Grants Would Prevent More Hardship

Jun 23, 2011

By Elizabeth Kenefick

Yesterday Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.) introduced HR 2277, a bill that will extend through the end of this fiscal year funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Supplemental Grants that aid 17 disadvantaged states each year.  Without an extension, many of these states will have their total funding under TANF cut by roughly 10 percent.  This would exacerbate the funding struggles states are facing given unprecedented need due to the Great Recession.

Rep. Doggett's bill is necessary because last November the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, that extended TANF, funded the grants only through June 2011 and only partially.  This means that, unless an extension is passed, the 17 states that rely on Supplemental Grants will have only received 66 percent of the funding they generally receive. Without the extension, it will be the first time Congress has not fully renewed the grants since they were initiated by Sens.  Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Bob Dole when TANF was created in 1996.     

Although termed "supplemental," the grants were created from the onset of TANF to aid states with low federal Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) spending per poor child and states with rapidly growing populations.  When the block grant was instituted, the state distributions were based primarily on previous spending under AFDC.  In essence this formula could potentially support any existing disparities in funding across states.  As a result, 17 states were identified then to receive the supplemental grants.

The loss of the supplemental grants on top of a partially funded Contingency Fund and the expiration of the TANF Emergency Fund will force states to make even more draconian cuts than they already have.  Congress should pass an extension before it dries up this month.


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