In the 2005 welfare reform legislation, Congress authorized funding for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant through September 30, 2010. For the TANF program to continue after September 30, Congress must reauthorize its funding no later than that date.
In the 1996 welfare reform legislation, Congress authorized funding for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant through September 30, 2002. However, the Senate and the House were unable to pass reauthorizing legislation. Instead, the legislation was extended on a temporary basis.
In the fall of 2005, Congress found a way to break through the impasse over TANF reauthorization. Congress added wording that amounted to a full TANF reauthorization plan into un-filibusterable Budget Reconciliation process that this memo referred to earlier. After four years of unsuccessful attempts to reauthorize a version of TANF with stricter provisions, on February 1, 2006 the Congress finally managed to pass TANF reauthorization into law. Rather than making much needed changes to TANF and making up for its shortcomings, the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) instead ratcheted up work requirements: the DRA requires states to have 50% of all adults receiving TANF assistance to be involved in some form of work, and it requires a full 90% of two-parent couples to be working in order to receive assistance. Moreover, the DRA’s TANF language increases work requirements to 35 hours a week and it provides grossly inadequate funding for child care to match.
Unfortunately, though TANF is supposed to be reauthorized by the end of 2010, the House and Senate have not made it a priority, and it is likely to be pushed to another year, with a continuing resolution extending the current program.