CCAGW Urges Opposition to H.R. 2940 | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

CCAGW Urges Opposition to H.R. 2940

June 3, 2019

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.  20515

Dear Representative,

Today there will be a vote under suspension on H.R. 2940, which would extend the program of block grants to States for temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) and related programs through September 30, 2019.  On behalf of the more than one million members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), I urge you to reject this legislation.

The TANF block grant gives states, tribes, and the territories a wide range of benefits and services that seek to address the root causes and effects of child poverty and economic disadvantage.  Like other well intended programs, there are fundamental problems with TANF that must be addressed. Unfortunately, H.R. 2940 is a clean reauthorization and fails to include any changes to fix the program.

A loophole known as “categorical eligibility” allows states to use TANF to provide food stamps (SNAP) to families that would otherwise be ineligible.  Current law makes recipients of TANF benefits automatically eligible to also receive SNAP benefits.  Inexpensive brochures or referrals to a telephone hotline can technically count as TANF “benefits,” meaning that any household that receives a brochure or opens its door to a neighborhood canvassing state employee automatically becomes eligible for SNAP benefits.

Currently there is no way to know how many families are getting improper TANF benefits.  The states distribute the federal funds, but are not required to perform improper payment reviews.  States must be held accountable for how they handle the taxpayer’s money.  According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), improper welfare payments, including fraud, was conservatively estimated to be 10.6 percent of all federal welfare payments made in fiscal year 2017, totaling $77.3 billion.  OMB has listed TANF among its “high priority programs” – programs suspected of having improper payments greater than $2 billion annually.

H.R. 2940 addresses none of the many problems associated with wasteful spending in the TANF program. I strongly urge you to reject this bill and demand any future reauthorization of TANF include language to address fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.  All votes on H.R. 2940 will be among those considered in CCAGW’s 2019 Congressional Ratings.   

Sincerely,

Tom Schatz
President, CCAGW

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