This week saw action on both H.R. 7, the House companion to the Senate CARE Act, and the version of a Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization bill.
H.R. 7, the Charitable Giving Act of 2003: House vote expected next week
On Tuesday, September 9, the House Ways and Means Committee marked up H.R. 7, which includes three provisions from the CARE Act that have been a priority for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) and the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA): (1) allowing non-itemizers to claim charitable deductions on their taxes to spur additional private giving; (2) creating a Compassion Capital Fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building for faith-based and community groups, and (3) authorizing $33 million to establish group maternity homes for young mothers.
Unfortunately, H.R. 7 does not include a fourth and crucial -- priority provision in the CARE Act: restoring funding to the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) program. Rep. Benjamin Cardin (MD) offered an amendment during the mark-up to add $1 billion for SSBG to the bill, but the amendment was defeated.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 7 next week, perhaps as early as Tuesday, September 16. See below for what you can do!
TANF: Senate Finance Committee Acts
The Senate Finance Committee passed its version of a TANF bill on Wednesday, September 10, by a straight party-line vote of 9-8. The bill falls short of our priorities, because it continues to deny benefits to legal immigrants; doesnt include enough new child care funding; increases required work hours, from 30 to 34 (20 to 24 for single parents with children under 6); and doesnt expand the time that states can count genuine education and training as work. On the other hand, the bill does begin to move in the right direction in some ways: it allows treatment for substance abuse and other work barriers to count as work for a limited time; gives some flexibility to TANF recipients who are full-time caretakers of family members; and includes funding for programs to support healthy marriages and families.
The Committee has yet to produce final bill language. When it becomes available, we will review it. Given the full Senates already full schedule, it is unclear when the full Senate might act on TANF this session or next. Stay tuned for future updates!
ACTION REQUESTED: H.R. 7
Call your Representative and urge him or her to support amendments to increase SSBG funding when H.R. 7 comes to the floor next week.