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LOGA Resource:  Updated November 26, 2003


Comparing Senate and House Bills

“Universal Engagement” Requirements:

Senate: Eliminates 24-month “work-trigger”. States must develop self-sufficiency plans for each family within 60 days of TANF enrollment, and outline in their TANF plans how they intend to require parents and caregivers to engage in work or other sufficiency activities.  Plans must contain activities designed to assist the family achieve their maximum degree of self-sufficiency, supportive services that the state intends to provide, steps to promote child well-being, and information about work support assistance for which the family may be eligible.  There is a financial penalty to states for non-compliance.
Requires states to develop self-sufficiency plans for all parents and caretakers receiving TANF assistance within 60 days of enrollment.  Plans must detail work activities.  Financial penalty to states for non-compliance 


Senate: Similar to current law, but requires states to screen for and assess “work barriers”. 
House:  Similar to current law but specifies that assessment may be conducted in the manner state deems appropriate.

Participation Rate:

Senate:  55% in 2005, 60% in 2006, 65% in 2007, 70% in subsequent years; eliminates separate two-parent rate; gives states the option to include a family with an adult receiving substantial child care or transportation assistance in the work participation rate.
Basically the same regarding percentages

Participation Rate Credits:

Senate:  Replaces caseload reduction credit with employment credit based on the number of families who are employed after leaving ongoing cash assistance. 
:  Retains caseload reduction credit, but bases it only on recent declines in caseload.

Hours of Participation:

Senate:  Single parents with a child under age 6: 24 hours, other single parents: 34 hours.  Two-parent families: 39 hours and 55 hours if family receives federally subsidized child care.  Teen parents current law.  Provides partial credit for work.
Requires 160 hours a month regardless of age of child and number of parents in household. Also has partial credits.

Countable Work Activities: 

Senate:  Primary – increases hours to 24 and makes minor modification to rules for counting job search (changes 6 to 8 weeks).  States can count participants placed in certain “barrier removal” and education activities for up to 6 months in 24 as long as these activities are combined with work or work-readiness activities during months 4-6.  Secondary: maintains current law, plus adds substance abuse counseling or treatment, programs designed to remove work barriers, postsecondary education adult literacy programs or activities, and programs or activities authorized under a waiver approved for any state after August 22, 1996.  States may deem a single parent who provides care for a disabled child or dependent to be meeting all or part of a family’s work requirements. 
House:  Limits countable activities to paid or unpaid work, including on-the-job-training, supervised work experience, and supervised community service for the first 24 hours.  Can count participants placed in other state-defined “qualified activities” for no more than 3 months in 24.  Secondary:  Determined by state subject to such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe. 
Current Law:
Primary activities 1) paid or unpaid work, including on-the-job training, work experience, and community service; 2) vocational educational training (12 months); 3) job search (6 weeks); and 4) providing child care for other participants. Secondary activities that count toward remaining hours: 1) any of above activities; 2) job skills training; and 3) education related to employment; 4) satisfactory secondary school attendance or participation in GED program.

Education and Training:

Senate:  Provides states the option to count postsecondary or vocational education as a work activity for more than 12 months, with participation in postsecondary education capped at 10 percent of a state’s caseload.
Eliminates vocational education as a primary activity, except that work-related education or training could count as a primary activity for 3 months (in limited circumstances) in a 24- month period.  Eliminates 30% cap.

Sanctions and Sanction Review Procedures:

Senate:  States plan must describe strategies state may take to address services for struggling and noncompliant families and for clients with special problems, and states must review self-sufficiency plan before imposing a sanction. 
Mandates full family sanctions for non-compliant families, and does not require states to review self-sufficiency plan before imposing a sanction.

Child Care Funding: 

Senate:  Mandatory funding increase of $200 million a year - does not specify if these will be matching funds.  A floor amendment is expected to increase this amount appreciably. 
Same as Senate but requires the funds to have a state match.  Also authorizes an additional $2.4 billion over five years in discretionary funding but does not actually appropriate any of these funds.

TANF Block Grant:

Senate and House:  Freeze the block grant at $16.5 billion through FY 2008. 

Supplemental Grants:

Senate and House:   Provide $319 million annually through 2007.

Contingency Fund:  

Senate:  $2 billion through FY 2008.  Eligibility based on updated unemployment rate, food-stamp caseload, or TANF-caseload increase criteria.  Eliminates 100% MOE requirement.
$2 billion through FY 2008. Generally maintains current law, except that spending on child care and separate state programs count toward MOE requirement.


Senate and House:  Replace the high-performance bonus with a $100 million annual bonus to reward employment achievement, and eliminate the non-marital-birth-reduction bonus.

Dedicated Funding for marriage-Promotion and family Formation-Related Purposes: 

Senate:  Provides $500 million over five years for competitive matching grant program for “healthy marriage” promotion.  States may use TANF funds as match requirement. 
Provides $600 million. 
Senate and House:
  Provide an additional $500 million over five years to HHS for research, demonstrations, and technical assistance.  Both Senate and House list the various activities for which the funds must be used.

Fatherhood Programs: 

Senate:  Authorizes $75 million annually for fatherhood programs contingent on appropriation. 
 Provides $20 million annually. 
Senate and House:
Some provisions included regarding domestic violence.

TANF Purposes: 

Current Purposes: 1) assist needy families; 2) end dependence of needy parents by promoting work and marriage; 3) reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and 4) encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families. 
 Modifies the 4th purpose to read: “encourage the formation and maintenance of healthy, 2-parent married families and encourage responsible fatherhood.”
Adds “improving child-well-being” as overall purpose and “reducing poverty” to 2nd purpose.  The 4th purpose reads the same as the Senate. 

Child Support: 

Senate:  Makes many improvements to the House bill concerning child support.  Senate provisions regarding pass through, distribution, review and adjustment, and teen parents are very positive.

Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA): 

Senate:   Permanently reauthorizes TMA with new state options to extend eligibility and simplify participant reporting requirement. 
reauthorizes current program for 1 year.


Senate:  Up to ten states, with approval from HHS, could obtain waivers of federal law and rules related to TANF, the Social Services Block Grant, and the Child Care Development Fund.  The Senate narrows the applicable programs to the stated three. 
 Provides that states with the approval by appropriate federal agencies could obtain waivers of nearly all federal law and rules related to TANF, the Food Stamp Program, public housing and most homelessness programs, SSBG, the Child Care Development Fund, most Workforce Investment Act programs, and adult basic education. 

Legal Immigrant Eligibility for TANF and Medicaid/SCHIP: 

Senate and House:   Maintain current law. Most legal immigrants are ineligible for these programs during their first five years in the United States. 

For additional information contact: Kay Bengston; Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs, ELCA; e-mail:; phone: (202) 626-7942.  Thanks to the Center for Law and Social Policy and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for their analysis.

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