Block Grant

In recent years, Congressional Republicans have proposed budgets that would attack the fundamental structure of key safety net programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid, and “block grant” them. Under a block grant, states receive a fixed amount of funds to spend in a designated area and must choose between competing needs. The history of block grants—particularly the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant—shows that they fail to keep up with need, do not respond to economic downturns, allow states to divert funds, and increase disparities between the opportunities offered to residents of different states.