For Immediate Release: September 24, 2010

Congress Set to Let TANF Emergency Fund Expire

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund, a federal program that has created subsidized jobs for more 250,000 people struggling to find work in the tough economy is set to expire Sept. 30 if Congress fails to act.

Over the last several months, lawmakers have weighed extending the program in various bills, but none of these efforts has come to fruition.  Congress created the $5 billion Emergency Fund as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, more widely known as the stimulus. The program was created to assist states in expanding much-needed services (cash assistance, subsidized employment, other short-term benefits) during the recession. 

"While some experts may say the recession officially ended last year, we know that it hasn't for millions of families," said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a senior policy analyst at CLASP. "Unemployment remains at its highest levels in a generation and just recently we learned that record numbers of people are now living in poverty.

"What people want more than anything is a chance to work and provide for their families," Lower-Basch added. "This program has done just that."

The (TANF) Emergency Fund has provided work for unemployed individuals in 37 states, putting people back to work while giving struggling businesses a much-needed boost during these tough times.  If Congress allows the Emergency Fund to expire, thousands will lose jobs that have helped them make ends meet, and struggling businesses will lose valuable labor.

"The recession was much steeper than anyone anticipated in February 2009, and there are actually fewer jobs now than there were in June 2009, when the recession officially ended," Lower-Basch said. "With nearly five people looking for work for every job opening, it does not make sense to end this successful program."

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