The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History




The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
(TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History

Updated January 6, 2021
Congressional Research Service
https://crsreports.congress.gov
R44668




The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History

Summary
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant was created in the Personal
Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193). It was born out
of the welfare reform debates that spanned four decades, from the 1960s through the 1990s.
These debates focused on the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, which
provided federal funding for state-run programs delivering assistance to needy families with
children, with most families receiving assistance historical y being headed by single mothers who
were not working. The welfare reform debates focused on whether and how much single mothers
should be expected to work, and whether the program itself contributed to dependency by
providing disincentives to work and raise children in two-parent families.
In 1992, then-candidate Bil Clinton promised to “end welfare as we know it.” President Clinton
submitted his welfare reform proposal to Congress in June 1994, but Congress did not take any
action on it. A welfare reform proposal was included in the House Republican “Contract with
America” document during the 1994 congressional campaign. This proposal would have altered,
but not replaced, AFDC. Immediately after the 1994 congressional campaign, with Republicans
taking control of both the House and the Senate, the new House leadership and Republican
governors crafted a proposal to end AFDC and replace it with the TANF block grant. This
proposal passed Congress as part of two separate pieces of legislation in 1995, but President
Clinton vetoed both.
In 1996, a revised proposal was offered and passed Congress. On August 22, 1996, President
Clinton signed the 1996 welfare reform bil that ended AFDC and replaced it with TANF, a
broad-purpose block grant to the states that helps fund a wide range of benefits, services, and
activities to address the effects of, and root causes of, child poverty and economic disadvantage.
Reflecting its origins in the welfare reform debates, most TANF policy revolves around the state
programs of cash assistance and work programs that the block grant helps fund.
Most TANF policies in effect in 2021 date back to the 1996 welfare reform law. The original
funding provided in that law for TANF expired at the end of FY2002 (September 30, 2002), and
most of the legislative activity since then has been to continue funding on a short-term basis.
From FY2002 to FY2006, TANF was funded by a series of short-term extensions. There was one
long-term extension of TANF funding—The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA, P.L. 109-
171)—which extended it from FY2006 through the end of FY2010. The DRA also made some
changes to TANF work rules and established a program of competitive grants mostly to
community-based organizations for healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood initiatives. Since
the end of FY2010, TANF has again been funded by a series of short-term extensions. Most
recently, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260) funds TANF through the end
of FY2021 (September 30, 2021).
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Contents
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 1
Brief History of AFDC and the Welfare Reform Debates ....................................................... 1

The Early Years: 1930s to mid-1950s............................................................................ 2
The mid-1950s to the 1960s: Self-Sufficiency and Work .................................................. 3
The Late 1960s and 1970s: Negative Income Tax and Guaranteed Incomes ........................ 3
The 1980s: Devolution and Early Experiments ............................................................... 4
1992 to 1996: “Ending Welfare As We Know It” ............................................................ 5
President Clinton’s Proposal .................................................................................. 5
The Contract with America .................................................................................... 6
A Block Grant for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families ....................................... 6
Welfare Reform Added to the 1995 Budget Bil —First Veto of Welfare Reform ............. 8
Final Agreement on H.R. 4 and Second Veto of Welfare Reform .................................. 8

Legislation Action in 1996 .......................................................................................... 8
Major Differences Between AFDC and TANF ..................................................................... 9
Overview of Post-1996 TANF Legislation ........................................................................ 11
Balanced Budget Act of 1997 .................................................................................... 11
Attempts at Reauthorization: 2002-2005 ..................................................................... 12
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 ............................................................................. 13
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009....................................................... 13
TANF Legislation from 2010 to 2020 ......................................................................... 14
Detailed Legislative Chronology ..................................................................................... 15
1996 ...................................................................................................................... 15
1997 ...................................................................................................................... 15

1998 ...................................................................................................................... 15
1999 ...................................................................................................................... 15
2000 ...................................................................................................................... 15
2002 ...................................................................................................................... 16
2003 ...................................................................................................................... 16

2004 ...................................................................................................................... 16
2005 ...................................................................................................................... 16
2006 ...................................................................................................................... 17
2008 ...................................................................................................................... 17
2009 ...................................................................................................................... 17

2010 ...................................................................................................................... 17
2011 ...................................................................................................................... 17
2012 ...................................................................................................................... 18
2013 ...................................................................................................................... 18
2014 ...................................................................................................................... 18
2015 ...................................................................................................................... 18

2016 ...................................................................................................................... 19
2017 ...................................................................................................................... 19
2018 ...................................................................................................................... 19
2019 ...................................................................................................................... 19
2020 ...................................................................................................................... 19


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Tables
Table 1. Selected Major Differences Between AFDC and TANF........................................... 10

Contacts
Author Information ....................................................................................................... 20


Congressional Research Service

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History

Introduction
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant was created by the 1996
welfare reform law, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of
1996 (P.L. 104-193). It replaced the program of cash assistance for needy families that dated back
to the New Deal, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), and some of its related
programs. The enactment of the 1996 welfare reform law was the culmination of a debate about
how to overhaul programs providing cash assistance to needy families with children—
specifical y, those headed by single mothers—that spanned four decades: from the 1960s to the
1990s.
The 1996 welfare law provided both program authority and funding (appropriations) for TANF
through the end of FY2002.1 Most of the legislative activity on TANF since 2002 has been to
extend the program funding and financing authority for TANF. Most of these extensions did not
change TANF policy, though policy changes were included in extensions enacted in 2006, 2010,
and 2012. Most recently, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260) funds TANF
through the end of FY2021 (September 30, 2021).
This report wil begin with a brief overview of the history of the AFDC program and the welfare
reform debates of the 1960s to the 1990s. That overview wil be followed by a summary of the
1996 welfare reform law and the changes made since 1996. The report concludes with a detailed
chronology of TANF legislation.
Brief History of AFDC and the Welfare Reform
Debates
The modern form of cash assistance for needy families with children dates back to the
Progressive Era of the early 1900s, and state- or local y funded mothers’ pensions for “fatherless”
families. The purpose of these programs was to permit these mothers to stay at home and care for
their children.
Federal funding for these programs was first provided in the Social Security Act of 1935 (P.L. 74-
271) through the Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) program, later renamed the Aid to Families
with Dependent Children program (AFDC). Many of the later changes, and the welfare reform
debates of the 1960s to the 1990s, focused on issues of work and whether providing cash to
nonworking single mothers served as disincentives for both work and marriage.
However, the history of the ADC/AFDC program touched many other facets of the wel -being of
children and their families. ADC/AFDC provided federal funding for social services, medical
assistance, child care, and foster care. These were later spun off into separate programs, with
dedicated federal funding. While much of the focus of the welfare reform debates was on the
single mother (custodial parent), ADC/AFDC policy also touched on noncustodial parents. The
Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program was created, in great part, to reimburse states and the
federal government for the costs of providing assistance to single mothers, and making
noncustodial fathers responsible for these costs. CSE has evolved into a program that distributes
child support payments collected from noncustodial parents to custodial parents, mostly to
families that have never received or are no longer receiving cash assistance.

1 T hus, though T ANF is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, its funding is not a part of the
regular appropriations bill for the department.
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The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History

The Early Years: 1930s to mid-1950s
The Social Security Act of 1935 (P.L. 74-271) created the social insurance programs of Old Age
Benefits and unemployment compensation, where workers earned protection against lost wages
because of old age and involuntary unemployment. It also created federal funding for state
programs providing assistance for low-income aged persons, blind persons, and programs for
needy families with children where one parent (usual y the father) was unable to support the
family.
The ADC program provided grants to the states to help finance programs to assist children who
were “deprived of parental support or care by reason of the death, continued absence from the
home, or physical or mental incapacity of a parent” and who lived with the other parent or a
relative. States ran the program and determined eligibility for its benefits. The federal government
provided funding for a portion of the expenditures made in state ADC programs.
The legislative history of the 1935 act explicitly stated that the purpose of ADC payments was to
permit mothers to stay at home rather than work:
The very phrases “mothers’ aid” and “mothers’ pensions” place an emphasis equivalent to
misconstruction of the intention of these laws. These are not primarily aids to mothers but
defense measures for children. They are designed to release from the wage-earning role the
person whose natural function is to give her children the physical and affectionate
guardianship necessary not alone to keep them from falling into social misfo rtune, but more
affirmatively to rear them into citizens capable of contributing to society.2
The 1935 Social Security Act left administration and many decisions about eligibility to the
states. States also determined ADC benefit amounts.
In the early years, families receiving ADC benefits were often headed by a widow or had a
disabled father.3 However, over time the natures of both the program and the families it aided
changed. The Social Security Amendments of 1939 (P.L. 76-379) added “survivor” benefits to the
program of old age benefits, renaming it Old Age and Survivors Insurance. Survivor benefits, like
old age benefits, were social insurance benefits earned through work in a covered job and paid to
spouses and children upon the death of a worker or retiree. This provided an alternative, and more
universal, means of aiding widows and their children. The Social Security Amendments of 1956
(P.L. 84-881) added Disability Insurance to Old Age and Survivor Insurance, with the combined
program now commonly referred to as Social Security. The 1956 amendments also expanded the
types of jobs covered by Social Security. These changes, too, provided more universal means of
aiding the types of families that were original y assisted by ADC.
The families receiving ADC increasingly were families where the father was alive but absent. The
caseload also became increasingly nonwhite.4

2 See the Report of the Committee on Economic Security to the President, transmitted to the President on January 15,
1935.
3 An early look at the characteristics of families receiving assistance comes from a study of 16 states in 1942. In those
states, 41.4% of total families lacked support because of the death of a parent, usually the father. Additionally, 27.6%
of ADC families in those states lacked support because of the incapacity of one parent (again, usually the father).
Agnes Leisy, Fam ilies Receiving Aid to Dependent Children, October 1942 , Federal Security Agency, Social Security
Board, March 1945.
4 T he report on the characteristics of families receiving assistance (cited above) in 1942 showed that in the 16 states
included in the study, 78.6% of t he children were white. In 1953, it was reported that 63% of “ families” were white. In
1958, 58% of families were white. See Social Security Administration, Bureau of Public Assistance, Characteristics
and Financial Circum stances of Fam ilies Receiving Aid to Dependent Children, Late 1958
, Bureau of Public
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The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History

The mid-1950s to the 1960s: Self-Sufficiency and Work
The issue of whether single mothers should work was also much debated. The intent of ADC to
al ow single mothers to stay home and raise their children was often met with resistance at the
state and local levels.5 It was also contrary to the reality that low-income women, particularly
women of color, were sometimes expected to, and often did, work.6 Further, the increase in
women’s labor force participation in the second half of the 20th century—particularly among
married white women—eroded support for payments that permitted single mothers to remain at
home and out of the workforce.
The Social Security Amendments of 1956 (P.L. 84-881) added the goals of creating “self-
sufficiency” and strengthening family life to ADC, along with funding for services that would
seek to achieve these goals.
P.L. 87-31, enacted in 1961, first made cash assistance benefits available to families headed by
two able-bodied parents at state option. This authority was temporary at first (in response to an
economic downturn), but was later made permanent. In 1962, the program was renamed Aid to
Families with Dependent Children. The 1962 amendments, the Public Welfare Amendments of
1962 (P.L. 87-543), also established a community work and training program for adult AFDC
recipients, largely intended for men in two-parent families.7
The Social Security Amendments of 1967 (P.L. 90-248) enacted both financial incentives for
adult recipients to work and, for the first time, requirements for AFDC mothers to work. These
amendments required states to disregard from a family’s countable income some earnings when
determining its “need” and benefits. The amendments also created a new work program under
AFDC—the Work Incentive Program (WIN)—that expanded the population served by an AFDC-
related work program to women.
The Late 1960s and 1970s: Negative Income Tax and Guaranteed
Incomes
The late 1960s marked the beginning of the welfare reform debates, with proposals put to
Congress to completely replace AFDC with a different type of program. This occurred as AFDC’s
costs and the number of families receiving its benefits increased. In 1964, fewer than 1 mil ion
families received AFDC. By 1973, the AFDC rolls had increased to 3.1 mil ion families.
For the decade beginning in 1969, these proposals were based on the “negative income tax” (NIT)
concept. The NIT proposals would have provided a guaranteed income to families who had no

Assistance Report Number 42, Undated. By 1969, half of the caseload was white. See U.S. Department of Health,
Education, and Welfare, social and Rehabilitation Service, Prelim inary Report of Findings—1969 AFDC Study, MCSS
Report AFDC-1 (69), March 1970.
5 For a discussion of nonfinancial restrictions to cash assistance, including those related to work, in the earlier years of
ADC, see Winifred Bell, Aid to Dependent Children (New York: Columbia University Press, 1965).
6 Historically, nonwhite women had a higher labor force participation rate than did white women. T his especially held
true for married women. For documentation of the increase in women’s labor force participation by marital status and
race, see Claudia Golden, “T he Evolution of the Female Labor Force,” in Understanding the Gender Gap, An
Econom ic History of Am erican Wom en
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 10 -57.
7 For a discussion of the AFDC work programs, see CRS Report 95-761 EPW Work Programs for Welfare Recipients:
A Look at Past Efforts
, by Karen Spar, June 23, 1995 (available to congressional clients upon request).
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The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History

earnings (the “income guarantee” that was part of these proposals). For families with earnings,
the NIT would have provided for a gradual reduction in the benefit as earnings increased.8
President Nixon proposed to replace AFDC with an NIT-type program in 1969, the Family
Assistance Plan (FAP).9 This proposal also would have nationalized the program, with the federal
government paying the income guarantee and states able to supplement the federal guarantee with
their own funds. This legislation was not enacted; it passed the House twice but never passed the
Senate.10 In 1972, the Senate Finance Committee proposed to guarantee jobs—rather than
income—for parents of school-age children.11 That proposal, too, did not ultimately pass.
President Carter also proposed an NIT-based cash assistance program coupled with a public
service job program in 1977. President Carter’s proposals died in committee (they were never
reported to either the ful House or Senate). A less ambitious proposal from President Carter in
1979 passed the House but did not pass the Senate.12
The 1980s: Devolution and Early Experiments
The proposals to change AFDC made by President Reagan at the beginning of his Administration
differed sharply from the earlier welfare reform proposals. They emphasized devolution to the
states in decisionmaking, rather than nationalization. They also emphasized requirement to work,
rather than work incentives. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 (P.L. 97-35) limited
the earnings disregard that was enacted in 1967, ending benefits for many who were on the rolls
and working. It also gave states expanded authority to require recipients to engage in community
service or work experience programs (unpaid work) in exchange for their AFDC benefit. In 1982,
President Reagan proposed to completely devolve cash assistance for families with children. That
proposal did not pass.
In the 1980s, there was increasing attention to “welfare dependency.” Research at that time
showed that while many mothers were on cash assistance for a short period of time, a substantial
minority of mothers remained on the rolls for long periods.13 Additional y, policymakers began to
focus on the possibility that a single mother who left welfare for work might be financial y worse
off than if she did not work and continued to collect benefits. Such a single mother, who might

8 T he negative income tax is often associated with economist Milton Friedman, who in 1963 proposed such a plan. See
Milton Friedman, “Chapter XII, T he Alleviation of Poverty,” in Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1963), pp. 190-195. Others, including economist James T obin and Robert Lampman also developed the
idea of the negative income tax around the same time as Friedman.
9 U.S. President (Nixon), “Special Message to the Congress on Reform of the Nation’s Welfare System,” Public Papers
of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969
(Washington: GPO, 1971), pp. 647-654.
10 For a contemporary account of the debate on President Nixon’s FAP proposal, see Vincent J. Burke and Vee Burke,
Nixon’s Good Deed: Welfare Reform (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974). See also Daniel P. Moynihan, The
Politics of a Guaranteed Incom e: The Nixon Adm inistration and the Fam ily Assistance Plan
(New York: Vintage
Books, 1973).
11 See U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Finance, Social Security Amendment of 1972, Report to Accompany H.R.
1, to Amend the Social Security Act and Other Purposes, 92nd Cong., 2nd sess., September 26, 1972, S, Rept. 92 -1230
(Washington: GPO, 1972).
12 U.S. President (Carter), “Welfare Reform,” 95th Cong., 1st sess., September 7, 1977, H.Doc. 95-205 (Washington:
GPO, 1977). A description and analysis of President Carter’s welfare reform proposals can be found in Congressional
Budget Office, The Adm inistration’s Welfare Reform Proposal: An Analysis of the Program for Better Jobs and
Incom e
, April 1, 1978, https://www.cbo.gov/publication/21353.
13 See Mary Jo Bane and David T . Ellwood, Transitions from Welfare to Work, Urban Systems and Engineering Inc.,
Cambridge, MA, 1983; and David T . Ellwood, Targeting “Would-Be” Long-Term Recipients of AFDC, Mathematica
Policy Research, Princeton, NJ, 1986.
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The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History

command relatively low wages in the labor force, risked losing medical assistance from Medicaid
for herself and her children and faced work-related costs such as child care.
The Family Support Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-485) established in AFDC the notion of mutual
responsibility between the cash assistance recipient and the state. It created the Job Opportunities
and Basic Skil s (JOBS) Training program, which provided employment services, education, and
training for cash assistance recipients. The Family Support Act also mandated that states provide
benefits for two-parent families, though it was on more restrictive terms than those for single-
parent families.
The Family Support Act also established the Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA) program that
continued Medicaid coverage for a period of time for those who otherwise would have lost
eligibility for Medicaid when moving from welfare to work. Further, it guaranteed child care for
AFDC recipients engaged in work activities and provided time-limited (transitional) child care for
those who left AFDC for work. Subsequent legislation, enacted in 1990, further expanded child
care by creating a new block grant for those without a connection to AFDC, new matching funds
to subsidize child care for those “at risk” of receiving AFDC, and a major expansion of the
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Additional y, an era of experimentation on “welfare-to-work” initiatives began in the 1980s.
President Reagan proposed legislation in 1987 that would have authorized states to conduct
demonstration projects that could have included AFDC and any other low -income assistance
programs. These demonstrations would have been overseen at the federal level by an Interagency
Low-Income Opportunity Board.14 Though the proposed legislation was not enacted, the Reagan
Administration, and subsequently the Administrations of George H. W. Bush and Bil Clinton,
issued waivers of AFDC requirements under another provision of law.15 The experimentation on
“welfare-to-work” initiatives found that requiring participation in work or job preparation
activities could effectively move single mothers off the benefit rolls and into jobs.16
1992 to 1996: “Ending Welfare As We Know It”
The number of families receiving cash assistance had been fairly stable during the period from
1982 to 1988. However, beginning in the summer of 1989 the number of families receiving cash
assistance began to increase once again.
President Clinton’s Proposal
During the 1992 presidential campaign, then-candidate Bil Clinton promised to “end welfare as
we know it.” He stressed time-limited aid and expanded financial supports for those who did go
to work. The 1993 tax bil further expanded the EITC.
President Clinton made his welfare reform proposal in June 1994.17 It would have phased in a
two-year limit on AFDC receipt without work, followed by required participation in a wage-
paying work program after two years. It would also have expanded funding for training within the

14 U.S. Congress, House, Proposed Legislation—"Low-Income Opportunity Improvement Act of 1987,” Message from
the President of the United States, 100th Cong., 1st sess., February 26, 1987, H. Doc. 100-39 (Washington: GPO, 1987).
15 T he provision of law was Section 1115 of the Social Security Act.
16 For a history of welfare reform experimentation, see Judith M. Gueron and Howard Rolston, Fighting for Reliable
Evidence
(New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2013).
17 U.S. President (Clinton), Proposed Legislation, “Work and Responsibility Act of 1994,” 103 rd Cong., 1st sess., June
21, 1994, H.Doc. 103-273 (Washington: GPO, 1994).
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The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History

first two years. It was estimated to increase child care costs for participants in the JOBS program
or the wage-paying work program. The proposal would have barred AFDC to unwed minor
mothers.
President Clinton’s proposal was never considered by either the House or the Senate. However,
during the period before the enactment of the 1996 welfare reform law, the Administration
granted waivers of AFDC law to 43 states al owing them to engage in “welfare reform”
demonstration projects.18 Some of these waivers were for smal -scale demonstrations, but some
were for statewide demonstrations of state-designed cash assistance and work programs.
The Contract with America
Welfare reform was one of 10 legislative initiatives that was included in the “Contract with
America,” developed by Republicans for the 1994 congressional campaign.19 The welfare
proposal in the Contract with America would have required recipients to work after two years of
AFDC (like the Clinton Administration proposal), but it also would have imposed a lifetime five-
year limit on benefits. It would have barred AFDC to unwed minor mothers and would have
imposed a “family cap,” not increasing benefits for new babies born into AFDC families. Funding
for AFDC and child care would have been capped, with states given the option to receive AFDC
as a block grant.
A Block Grant for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
H.R. 4, as introduced at the start of the 104th Congress, was the Contract with America proposal.
However, immediately following the 1994 congressional election, House Republicans worked
with several Republican governors to craft an alternative proposal that would block grant funding
for AFDC and other social programs.20 The welfare reform legislation considered by House
committees reflected the block grant proposals rather than the original H.R. 4 legislation.
Legislation reported from the House committees was bundled into an omnibus welfare reform bil
that included the end of AFDC and its replacement with TANF.21 That bil , the Personal
Responsibility Act, substituting for the original text of H.R. 4, passed the House on March 24,
1995.
H.R. 4, as passed by the House, formed the basis for al later welfare reform bil s considered and
passed by the 104th Congress. It would have

18 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation,
Setting the Baseline: A Report on State Welfare Waivers, June 1997.
19 T he text of the Contract with America can be found in the internet archive, https://web.archive.org/web/
19990427174200/http://www.house.gov/house/Contract/CONT RACT .html.
20 For a discussion of block grants as contrasted with other forms of federal grants, see CRS Report R40486, Block
Grants: Perspectives and Controversies
, by Robert Jay Dilger, Joseph V. Jaroscak, and Julie M. Lawhorn .
21 T he House Ways and Means Committee and the committee now known as the Education and Workforce Committee
(then known as the House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee) both reported welfare reform
legislation that included T ANF programs. T he House Ways and Means-reported bill was H.R. 1157, T he Welfare
T ransformation Act of 1995. T he bill reported from the House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee,
which included provisions related to T ANF work requirements, was H.R. 999, the Welfare Reform Consolidation Act
of 1995. T he House Rules Committee incorporated the committee bills, reconciled differences, and made other
modifications, and under a rule H.Res. 119 consolidated a number of committee bills into one substitute measure to be
considered on the floor as H.R. 4.
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The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History

 replaced AFDC and related programs of Emergency Assistance, and the work and
training program for AFDC recipients, with a block grant to the states for
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families;
 al otted TANF basic block grant funds to states based on recent expenditures in
AFDC and related programs;
 al owed states to spend their TANF grants on a broad range of benefits and
services;
 gradual y phased in a requirement that 50% of the caseload be either working or
engaged in activities, but limited the ability of states to count education and
training toward that target; the requirement could also be met, fully or partial y,
through caseload reduction (i.e., the caseload reduction credit);
 established a five-year lifetime limit on cash assistance;
 prohibited unwed minor parents from receiving cash assistance;
 prohibited states from increasing cash benefits when a new baby was born to a
family already on the rolls (the family cap); and
 limited need-tested benefits for noncitizens in need-tested programs, including
requiring that noncitizens be in the United States for five years before being
eligible for TANF.
The House-passed bil also consolidated AFDC-related child care funding with the block grant
created in 1990, and it increased funding for child care. However, it ended the guarantee that
those transitioning from welfare-to-work be provided child care.
The Senate Finance Committee ordered H.R. 4 reported in May 1995. The Finance Committee
bil adopted a similar structure to the House bil . Different from the House bil , however, the
Senate Finance Committee bil
 would have continued a separate employment and training program;
 did not include a family cap; and
 did not include the prohibition on benefits to unwed minor parents.
Disputes about the committee-reported measure over items such as the distribution of funds held
up consideration of the bil until August and September of 1995. Negotiations between party
leaders in the Senate, Senator Robert Dole for the Republicans and Senator Thomas Daschle for
the Democrats, produced an accord that also adopted the basic structure of the House bil but
made some substantial modifications. The compromise bil included
 a requirement that states continue to spend some of their own funds (a
“maintenance of effort,” or MOE requirement) in order to receive their full block
grant funds;
 supplemental grants to states with high rates of population growth and/or low
historical welfare spending per poor child;
 a contingency fund for states experiencing economic need;
 a provision to al ow aid to unwed minor parents who were living in an adult
supervised setting; and
 “charitable choice” provisions to permit increased participation of faith-based
organizations in the delivery of welfare services.
The Senate passed its version of H.R. 4 on September 19, 1995.
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The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History

Welfare Reform Added to the 1995 Budget Bill—First Veto of Welfare Reform
Following passage of welfare reform legislation in the Senate, both the House and Senate began
the process of crafting legislation to implement the budget adopted for FY1996. On October 17,
1995, the House Budget Committee reported its budget reconciliation bil (H.R. 2491), which
included the end of AFDC and its replacement with TANF. It passed the House on October 26,
1995. The Senate version of the budget reconciliation bil also general y included the Senate-
passed version of the TANF proposal, and it passed on October 28, 1995. Conferees came to an
agreement on the budget reconciliation bil —including the welfare reform provisions—on
November 17, 1995. The House- and Senate-approved conference agreement was vetoed by
President Clinton on December 6, 1995. President Clinton’s veto message highlighted his
opposition to cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, the EITC, and child nutrition programs. The President
said:
On welfare reform, I strongly support real welfare reform that strengthens families and
encourages work and responsibility. But the provisions in this bill, when added to the EITC
cuts, would cut low-income programs too deeply.22
Final Agreement on H.R. 4 and Second Veto of Welfare Reform
With the veto of the budget reconciliation bil , attention turned toward finalizing House-Senate
agreements on the stand-alone welfare reform bil (H.R. 4). A final conference report on H.R. 4
was filed on December 20, 1995. The final agreement included many of the modifications to
TANF that were adopted in the Senate, including
 a compromise maintenance of effort requirement;
 supplemental grants to states with high population growth and/or low historical
spending per poor child, but with limited funding; and
 a state option to impose a family cap.
President Clinton vetoed H.R. 4 on January 9, 1996. In vetoing the bil , the President remarked:
The final welfare reform legislation should provide sufficient child care to enable recipients
to leave welfare to work; reward States for placing people in jobs; restore the guarantee of
health coverage for poor families; require States to maintain their stake in moving people
from welfare to work; and protect States and families in the event of economic downturn
and population growth.23
The President also objected to budget cuts not related to the TANF proposal, such as provisions
that would have cut spending in food stamps (now the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program), benefits for disabled children, benefits for noncitizens, school lunches, and foster care
and adoption assistance.
Legislation Action in 1996
With welfare reform twice vetoed, the National Governor’s Association (NGA) in February 1996
adopted a policy position asking for additional child care funds, additional contingency funds for

22 U.S. President (Clinton), “Message to the House of Representatives Returning Without Approval Budget
Reconciliation Legislation,” Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton 1995 , vol. II
(Washington: GPO, 1996), p. 1853.
23 U.S. President (Clinton), “Veto of H.R. 4,” 104th Cong., 2nd sess., January 22, 1996, H. Doc. 104-164 (Washington:
GPO, 1996).
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recessionary periods, and bonus payments for states that meet certain employment outcomes. In
May 1996, House and Senate Republicans introduced bil s that reflected the policies of the vetoed
H.R. 4 and provided additional funding for child care, the TANF contingency fund, and
performance bonuses.
H.R. 3734, the budget reconciliation bil for that year, included these welfare reform provisions
together with a proposal to revise Medicaid.24 H.R. 3734 passed the House on July 18, 1996. The
Senate made a key modification to the bil by dropping its Medicaid provisions. The welfare
reform provisions remained in H.R. 3734, and it passed the Senate on July 23, 1996. A conference
agreement on the bil was filed July 30, 1996; it passed the House on July 31, 1996, and the
Senate on August 1, 1996.
President Clinton signed the legislation, known as the Personal Responsibility and Work
Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA; P.L. 104-193), into law on August 22, 1996.
Major Differences Between AFDC and TANF
The 1996 welfare reform law repealed AFDC and some of its related programs and replaced it
with the TANF block grant. Funding for the AFDC-related child care programs was consolidated
into a separate funding stream dedicated to child care.25 Some things did not change with the
1996 law. As was the case with AFDC, TANF programs are run by states (and sometimes
localities), and they determine the maximum benefits under the programs and set the income
eligibility thresholds.
Table 1 summarizes some of the major differences between AFDC and TANF. It should be noted
that at the time of enactment of the 1996 law many states were operating under waivers of the
AFDC rules that related to cash assistance. These waivers imposed time limits, set different rules
for counting earnings than did the AFDC federal rules, and set different rules for work or
participation in job activities. TANF permitted states to continue programs operated under
waivers, even if the provisions of the waiver were inconsistent with TANF rules. The last of these
waivers expired in 2007.26

24 CRS Report 98-814, Budget Reconciliation Legislation: Development and Consideration , by Bill Heniff Jr.
25 T hese funds are, by statute, transferred to the lead agency for the Child Care and Development Block Grant
(CCDBG). Combined discretionary funding auth orized under the CCDBG and mandatory child care funds are
consolidated into what is known as the Child Care and Development Fund. See CRS Report R44528, Trends in Child
Care Spending from the CCDF and TANF
, by Karen E. Lynch.
26 CRS Report R42627, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Welfare Waivers, by Gene Falk.
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Table 1. Selected Major Differences Between AFDC and TANF
(At enactment of the 1996 welfare reform law)
Provision
AFDC
TANF
Statutory Purpose
Encouraging the care of children in
Increase state flexibility to conduct
their own homes or in the homes
a program to achieve the fol owing
of relatives by enabling each state
four goals: (1) provide assistance to
to furnish financial assistance and
needy families so that children can
rehabilitation and other services to
be cared for in their own homes or
needy children and their parents or
homes of relatives, (2) end
other caretaker relatives. Help
dependence of needy parents on
parents or other caretaker relatives
government benefits, (3) reduce
attain or retain the capability for
out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and (4)
maximum self-support.
promote the formation and
maintenance of two-parent families.
Funding
Reimbursed states for a share of
A basic block grant to each state
their expenditures for AFDC,
based on the federal share of
Emergency Assistance (EA), and the
expenditures in AFDC, EA, and
Job Opportunity and Basic Skil s
JOBS in the early to mid-1990s. No
Training (JOBS) program. There
adjustments to this amount for
was no dol ar limit on federal
changes in circumstances.
funding for AFDC and EA. JOBS
Supplemental grants provided to 17
funding was subject to a dol ar limit
states that met criteria of having
national y and for each state.
low historic welfare spending per

poor person and high rates of
population growth.
Additional grants to states in a
contingency fund for economical y
needy states. A total of $2 bil ion
was provided for the contingency
fund.
Bonus funds to states for achieving
performance on TANF’s goals and
in reducing out-of-wedlock
pregnancies.

Funding was permanently
Funding for the TANF basic block
authorized, with annual
grant and bonus funds was
appropriations providing the budget appropriated through FY2002.
authority for the program.
Funding for the TANF contingency
fund and supplemental grants was
provided through FY2001.
State Funding
States also financed a share of
States required to expend a
expenditures in the AFDC, EA, and
minimum amount of funds, at least
JOBS programs. The state share
75% of what they spent in FY1994,
was lower in states with relatively
on “TANF-eligible” families on cash,
low per-capita incomes, and higher
child care, educational activities, and
in states with relatively high per-
any other activity that achieves the
capita incomes.
TANF purpose and goals.
Use of Funds
Reimbursed expenditures were for
TANF funds may be used for
cash assistance under AFDC,
activities that can be “reasonably
administration, and employment
calculated” to achieve TANF’s
and training services under JOBS.
statutory purpose and four goals.
EA reimbursed states for a share of
Also al ows spending on activities in
their spending on programs to
prior law that might not meet that
address immediate, emergency
requirement.
needs.
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Provision
AFDC
TANF
Individual Entitlement to
Provided for the granting of an
TANF law “shal not be interpreted
Benefits
opportunity for a fair hearing to any to entitle any individual or family to
individual whose claim for aid was
assistance under any State program
denied or was not acted upon with
funded [under TANF].”
reasonable promptness.
Time Limit
No time limit on cash assistance.
Federal TANF funds cannot be used
to provide assistance to a family
with a head of household who has
received TANF for 60 months.
Hardship extensions beyond 60
months provided for up to 20% of
the caseload.
Other Rules for Cash
States determined eligibility
States determine eligibility
Assistance Programs
thresholds and benefit amounts.
thresholds and benefit amounts,
However, federal law established a
same as under AFDC. Requires that
gross income limit (185% of the
families receiving assistance be
state-determined need standard); an needy, but specifies no further
asset test (no more than $1,000 in
federal rules for determining
countable assets); and rules for how financial eligibility and benefit
states count different forms of
amounts.
income, including earnings.
Work and Job Preparation


Requirements
Performance Measure for
Set a percentage of the caseload
Sets a percentage of the caseload
States
that was not already working ful -
that must be working or engaged in
time that had to be engaged in
job preparation activities. States are
employment, education, or training
limited in counting education and
activities under the JOBS program.
training activities for adult (age 20
Certain categories of individuals
or older) recipients. Some families
were exempt from the work
are disregarded from the
requirements and disregarded in
calculation. No categorical
calculating the percentage engaged
exemptions from work
in JOBS activities.
requirements.
Sanctions on Individuals
Noncomplying recipients were
States are required to sanction
“removed” from the consideration
those who refuse to comply with
of a family’s need, reducing the
state work requirements. The
benefit.
sanction may be either a pro-rata
reduction in the benefit or a
termination of the benefit.
Source: Congressional Research Service (CRS).
Overview of Post-1996 TANF Legislation
Balanced Budget Act of 1997
The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA97, P.L. 105-33), enacted one year after the 1996 welfare
reform law, made a number of changes to TANF. It created a program providing additional
funding dedicated to financing work activities. The Welfare-to-Work Grant program (WTW)
provided $3 bil ion for two years, FY1998 and FY1999. Under the program, funding was divided,
with 75% provided to states and local workforce areas through a formula and 25% dedicated to
competitive grants. The program was original y targeted at the hardest to serve population on
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TANF and similarly disadvantaged noncustodial parents. The WTW grant program was
administered by the Department of Labor (DOL), not the Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS), which administers TANF. Subsequent legislation relaxed requirements for
targeting services to the hardest to serve, and as funds were spent more slowly than anticipated,
the deadline for expenditures was extended.
The BBA97 made several other permanent changes to TANF, including
 permitting a greater percentage of recipients to be counted as engaged in work
through education and training, but retaining a limit on counting such
participation;
 setting a statutory limit on transfers from TANF to the Social Services Block
Grant at 10%;27 and
 making technical corrections to the 1996 welfare reform bil , including technical
corrections to TANF.
Attempts at Reauthorization: 2002-2005
In February 2002, President George W. Bush made proposals for the reauthorization of the TANF
block grant and related welfare reform proposals. The document, Working for Independence,
outlined a five-year reauthorization that would have
 funded the basic TANF block grant at the same level provided from FY1997
through FY2002 for an additional five years;
 provided mandatory child care funding through FY2007 at its FY2002 level
(with no inflation or other adjustment over the period FY2003-FY2007);
 provided dedicated funding for grants to promote healthy marriage;
 raised the work participation standard to a minimum of 70% of families with a
“work-eligible individual” that must be working or engaged in activities;
 required 40 hours per week of work or engagement in activities for full credit
toward meeting the standard, but al owed for partial credit for hours less than 40
hours per week;
 al owed states to count rehabilitative activities for three months on the rolls, but
narrowed the activities that counted after three months to work or community
service or work experience; and
 ended the caseload reduction credit against the work standards, replacing it with
a credit for recipients who left the rolls for work.
The Bush Administration proposals were incorporated (with some modifications) into bil s that
passed the House in 2002 and 2003: H.R. 4737 (107th Congress) and H.R. 4 (108th Congress). A
major difference between the Bush Administration proposal and the House proposals of 2002 and
2003 was that the House proposals retained the caseload reduction credit and provided extra
credit to states that had large historical caseload reductions. Following House action, the Senate
Finance Committee reported substantial y differing versions of each bil . The Senate Finance
Committee bil s did not narrow the activities that could be counted toward the work participation
standard after three months, and they expanded the ability of states to count participation in

27 P.L. 105-178 set the TANF statutory limit for transfers to T itle XX social services at 4.25%. Annual appropriation
bills since FY2001 have had special provisions to allow states to transfer up to 10% of their T ANF block grant to T itle
XX. See CRS Report 94-953, Social Services Block Grant: Background and Funding , by Karen E. Lynch.
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rehabilitative activities toward the TANF work participation standard. The Senate Finance
Committee bil s would have replaced the caseload reduction credit with a credit based on
employed leavers, families diverted from the rolls, and families receiving work supports. The full
Senate never acted on either of the Senate Finance Committee-reported bil s.
In the absence of reauthorization legislation, TANF program and funding authority was extended
on a temporary basis 13 times from 2002 to 2006.
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005
The early part of 2005 again saw committee action on legislation to reauthorize TANF. On March
9, 2005, the Senate Finance Committee ordered reported legislation that became S. 667 (109th
Congress). The following week, the House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on
Human Resources considered H.R. 240 and sent it to the full committee. However, further action
on TANF reauthorization did not occur until the fal of 2005, when the House and Senate began
considering legislation under the budget reconciliation process.
The House passed as part of their reconciliation bil (the House amendment to S. 1932) a TANF
reauthorization that essential y incorporated the proposals passed by the House in 2002 and 2003
and were contained in H.R. 240. The Senate version of the reconciliation bil contained no TANF
provisions.
The conference report on the budget reconciliation bil included TANF provisions different from
those that passed the House. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA, P.L. 109-171) included (1)
a long-term extension of TANF funding, through the end of FY2010; (2) the elimination of
performance bonuses to states; (3) the establishment of a $150 mil ion fund for research and
competitive grants on healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood, with $100 mil ion per year
for healthy marriage initiatives and $50 mil ion per year for responsible fatherhood initiatives;
and (4) changes to TANF work rules, such as counting caseload reduction only from 2005 (rather
than 1995) toward the work participation standards, requiring HHS to define specific work
activities that may count for each listed statutory work activity, and requiring that states verify
work activities of recipients. The DRA also included an increase in mandatory child care funding
from $2.717 bil ion per year to $2.917 bil ion per year.
The conference report on the DRA passed the House on December 19, 2005. Congress finished
reconciling differences between the two chambers in February 2006.28 President Bush signed the
DRA into law as P.L. 109-171 on February 8, 2006.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
The economy entered into a recession after December 2007, with a major financial crisis and
accelerating job loss occurring in late 2008. In response, the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) passed Congress and was signed by President
Obama. ARRA included tax cuts; unemployment insurance provisions; and extra funding for
programs, including provisions to provide fiscal relief to states.

28 T he delay in adopting a final version of the DRA came when the conference report reached the Senate floor and a
point of order was raised against certain, non-T ANF, provisions of the bill that violated the so -called Byrd Rule. Under
the Byrd rule, provisions of a budget reconciliation bill are considered extraneous and not in order if they do not have a
budget impact. T he Senate further amended the bill to remove the extraneous provisions, requiring further action to
adopt a final version of the bill in the House. For a discussion of the Byrd rule, see CRS Report RL30862, The Budget
Reconciliation Process: The Senate’s “Byrd Rule”
, by Bill Heniff Jr.
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ARRA also included $5 bil ion for a new TANF Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) available to
be spent in FY2009 and FY2010. The ECF supplemented funding for the regular TANF
contingency fund, which itself was depleted in early FY2010. The ECF reimbursed states for 80%
of the cost of increased expenditures for basic assistance, short-term emergency aid, and
subsidized employment. ARRA also temporarily froze the TANF caseload reduction credit at
prerecession levels, through its application to the FY2011 work participation standards.
TANF Legislation from 2010 to 2020
The long-term extension of TANF enacted in the DRA expired at the end of FY2010 (September
30, 2010). Since then, Congress continued TANF program authority and funding through a series
of short-term extensions. TANF extensions have been incorporated into stop-gap continuing
resolutions or omnibus appropriations bil s to fund al or most of the government, added to tax
bil s, added to unrelated legislation, or passed as stand-alone legislation. (As used in this report,
stand-alone legislation represents laws enacted that addressed only TANF and related programs.)
There were two gaps in funding for TANF during this period. Funding lapsed during broader
“government shutdowns” in October 2013 and beginning in December 2018. States were
permitted to draw on unspent, previously appropriated TANF funds to finance their TANF
activities during the shutdown.
While many of the short-term extensions of TANF funding did not make changes to TANF policy,
three extension laws did:
 The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 (CRA, P.L. 111-291), a bil to settle claims
against the federal government for certain Indian tribes, included a TANF
extension through the end of FY2011. It also altered funding for the healthy
marriage and responsible fatherhood programs, splitting the combined $150
mil ion appropriation for them at $75 mil ion for healthy marriage and $75
mil ion for responsible fatherhood (it had previously been $100 mil ion for
healthy marriage and $50 mil ion for responsible fatherhood). Additional y, the
CRA required special one-time reports from the states on how they spend funds
and on individuals with no reported hours of work participation. The CRA also
provided funding for TANF supplemental grants only through June 30, 2011
(rather than September 30, 2011, the end of the fiscal year). Supplemental grants
were not funded for the last quarter of FY2011, nor any fiscal year thereafter.
 The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96)
extended TANF through the end of FY2012, and also permanently amended
TANF law to require states to act to prevent cash assistance recipients from
withdrawing their benefits at Automated Tel er Machines (ATMs) at strip clubs,
casinos, and liquor stores.
 The FY2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 115-31) extended funding for
the TANF block grant for the remainder of FY2017 and for FY2018. It also
financed TANF-related research through a set-aside of 0.33% of the TANF basic
block grant appropriation. This reduced the TANF basic block grant to each state
by 0.33%.
In 2018, the House Ways and Means Committee reported legislation (H.R. 5861, 115th Congress)
that would have reauthorized and funded TANF for five years; revised TANF’s work rules to
measure employment outcomes rather than participation; required al assistance recipients to have
an individualized plan; required that al TANF funds be spent on families with incomes at or
below 200% of poverty; and required a minimum percentage of TANF funds to be spent on
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assistance, work activities, or short-term economic aid. The bil was not considered by the full
House.
Detailed Legislative Chronology
1996
P.L. 104-193, enacted August 22, 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity
Reconciliation Act of 1996, established the block grant of Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families. Funds for most TANF grants were appropriated through FY2002; supplemental grants
and the TANF contingency fund were appropriated through FY2001. States were required to
implement TANF, and accept their block grant funding, by July 1, 1997, though they could opt to
implement earlier.
P.L. 104-327, enacted October 19, 1996, amended the transition rule from the pre-TANF
programs to TANF that limited total FY1997 federal funding for TANF and pre-TANF programs.
It changed the limit on funding to the states for FY1997 from an amount equal to their basic block
grant to an amount equal to their basic block grant plus, if they qualified, what they would have
received from the TANF contingency fund.
1997
P.L. 105-33, enacted August 5, 1997, the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, raised the cap limiting the
counting of education as work from 20% to 30% of those considered engaged in work, and
temporarily removed from that cap teen parents engaged in education through FY1999; set the
maximum al owable TANF transfer to Title XX social services at 10% of the block grant (rather
than one-third of total transfers); and made technical corrections to P.L. 104-193. P.L. 105-33 also
established the Welfare-to-Work (WTW) grant program within TANF (funded at $3 bil ion over
two years, FY1998 and FY1999), but administered by the Department of Labor at the federal
level, with local administration by state workforce investment boards and competitive grantees.
P.L. 105-89, enacted November 19, 1997, the Adoption and Safe Families Act, reduced the
contingency fund appropriation by $40 mil ion.
1998
P.L. 105-178, enacted June 9, 1998, the Transportation Act for the 21st Century, permitted the use
of federal TANF funds as matching funds for reverse commuter grants. It also set the statutory
limit on TANF transfers to Title XX social services at 4.25% of the block grant. (Note that
subsequent annual appropriation bil s restored the 10% limit on TANF transfers to SSBG.)
1999
P.L. 106-113, enacted November 29, 1999, an omnibus appropriations act, broadened eligibility
for recipients to be served by the WTW grant program and added limited authority for vocational
education or job training to be WTW activities.
2000
P.L. 106-554, enacted December 21, 2000, an omnibus appropriation act, gave grantees two more
years to spend WTW grant funds (for a total of five years from the date of the grant award).
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2002
P.L. 107-147, enacted March 9, 2002, the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act, extended the
TANF supplemental grants and contingency funds, both of which had expired on September 30,
2001, through FY2002. Supplemental grants were extended at FY2001 levels.
P.L. 107-229, enacted September 30, 2002, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
basic grants, supplemental grants, bonus funds, and contingency funds (and other related
programs) through December 20, 2002.
P.L. 107-294, enacted November 22, 2002, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
and related funding through March 30, 2003.
2003
P.L. 108-7, enacted February 20, 2003, an omnibus appropriations act, extended TANF and
related funding through June 30, 2003.
P.L. 108-40, enacted June 30, 2003, a stand-alone bil , extended TANF and related funding
through September 30, 2003.
P.L. 108-89, enacted October 1, 2003, a multipurpose bil , included an extension of TANF and
related funding through March 31, 2004.
2004
P.L. 108-199, enacted January 23, 2004, a consolidated appropriations bil , rescinded al
remaining unspent WTW formula grant funds, effectively ending the WTW grant program.
P.L. 108-210, enacted March 31, 2004, a stand-alone bil , extended TANF and related funding
through June 30, 2004.
P.L. 108-262, enacted June 30, 2004, a stand-alone bil , extended TANF and related funding
through September 30, 2004.
P.L. 108-308, enacted September 30, 2004, a stand-alone bil , extended TANF and related funding
through March 31, 2005.
2005
P.L. 109-4, enacted March 25, 2005, a stand-alone bil , extended TANF and related funding
through June 30, 2005.
P.L. 109-19, enacted July 1, 2005, a stand-alone bil , extended TANF and related funding through
September 30, 2005.
P.L. 109-68, enacted September 21, 2005, al owed states to draw upon contingency funds to assist
those displaced by Hurricane Katrina, al owing directly affected states to receive funds from the
loan fund, with repayment of the loan forgiven, and suspending penalties for failure to meet
certain requirements for states directly affected by the hurricane. It also temporarily extended
TANF grants through December 30, 2005.
P.L. 109-161, enacted December 30, 2005, a stand-alone bil , extended TANF grants through
March 30, 2006.
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2006
P.L. 109-171, enacted February 8, 2006, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, extended most TANF
grants through FY2010 (supplemental grants were extended through the end of FY2008),
eliminated TANF bonus funds, established competitive grants within TANF for healthy marriage
and responsible fatherhood initiatives, revised the caseload reduction credit, and required HHS to
issue regulations to define specific activities that count toward the TANF work participation
standards as wel as verify work and participation in activities.
2008
P.L. 110-275, enacted July 15, 2008, the Medicare Improvements and Patients and Providers Act
of 2008, included an extension of TANF supplemental grants through the end of FY2009.
2009
P.L. 111-5, enacted February 17, 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, established
a $5 bil ion Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) to reimburse states for increased costs
associated with the Great Recession for FY2009 and FY2010. The fund reimbursed states,
territories, and tribes for 80% of the increased costs of basic assistance, nonrecurrent short-term
benefits, and subsidized employment. The law also permitted states to freeze caseload reduction
credits at prerecession levels, al owed states to use TANF reserve funds for any benefit or servic e
(it was previously restricted to assistance), and extended supplemental grants through the end of
FY2010.
2010
P.L. 111-242, enacted September 30, 2010, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 3, 2010.
P.L. 111-290, enacted December 4, 2010, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding authority through December 18, 2010.
P.L. 111-291, enacted December 8, 2010, the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, extended basic
TANF funding through the end of FY2011 (September 30, 2011) but provided supplemental
grants only through June 30, 2011. It also altered funding for the healthy marriage and
responsible fatherhood programs, splitting the combined $150 mil ion appropriation for them at
$75 mil ion for healthy marriage and $75 mil ion for responsible fatherhood. The act required
some additional reporting on work activities and TANF expenditures.
2011
P.L. 112-35, enacted September 30, 2011, the Short-Term TANF Extension Act, extended basic
TANF funding for three months, through December 31, 2011. No funding was provided for
TANF supplemental grants.
P.L. 112-78, enacted December 23, 2011, the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of
2011, extended basic TANF funding for two months, through February 29, 2012.
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2012
P.L. 112-96, enacted February 22, 2012, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of
2012, extended basic TANF funding for the remainder of FY2012 (to September 30, 2012). It
also prevented electronic benefit transaction access to TANF cash at liquor stores, casinos, and
strip clubs; states would be required to prohibit access to TANF cash at ATMs at such
establishments. It also required states to report TANF data in a manner that facilitates the
exchange of that data with other programs’ data systems.
P.L. 112-175, enacted September 28, 2012, a continuing resolution providing funding for the first
six months of FY2013, extended TANF funding through March, 2013.
2013
P.L. 112-275, enacted January 14, 2013, the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012, appropriated $612
mil ion to the TANF contingency fund for FY2013 and FY2014, and reserved $2 mil ion from
each of the two years’ appropriations for the activities of a commission to examine child welfare
fatalities.
P.L. 113-6, enacted March 26, 2013, an omnibus appropriations bil , extended TANF funding
through the remainder of FY2013.
P.L. 113-46, enacted October 17, 2013, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through January 15, 2014. (This resolution ended the government shutdown and a TANF
funding gap from October 1, 2013, through October 16, 2013.)
2014
P.L. 113-73, enacted January 15, 2014, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through January 18, 2014.
P.L. 113-76, enacted January 17, 2014, a consolidated appropriations act, extended TANF funding
for the remainder of FY2014 (through September 30, 2014).
P.L. 113-164, enacted September 19, 2014, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 11, 2014.
P.L. 113-202, enacted December 12, 2014, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 13, 2014.
P.L. 113-203, enacted December 13, 2014, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 17, 2014.
P.L. 113-235, enacted December 16, 2014, an omnibus appropriations act, extended TANF
funding through September 30, 2015.
2015
P.L. 114-53, enacted September 30, 2015, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 11, 2015.
P.L. 114-96, enacted December 11, 2015, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 16, 2015.
P.L. 114-100, enacted December 16, 2015, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 22, 2015.
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The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History

P.L. 114-113, enacted December 18, 2015, a consolidated appropriations act, extended TANF
funding for the remainder of FY2016 as part of an omnibus appropriations act.
2016
P.L. 114-223, enacted September 29, 2016, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 9, 2016.
P.L. 114-254, enacted December 10, 2016, extended TANF funding through April 28, 2017.
2017
P.L. 115-30, enacted April 28, 2017, extended TANF funding through May 5, 2017.
P.L. 115-31, the Consolidated Appropriation Act, 2017, enacted May 5, 2017, extended TANF
funding for the remainder of FY2017 and through the end of FY2018. It provided that 0.33% of
the funding in the TANF basic block grant pay for TANF-related research activities. This reduced
the basic TANF block grant for each state by that percentage (0.33%). The act also required the
Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Department of Labor, to
develop a database named “What Works Clearinghouse of Proven and Promising Projects to
Move Welfare Recipients into Work,” to consist of research projects that deliver services to move
TANF recipients into work.
2018
P.L. 115-245, enacted September 28, 2018, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 7, 2018.
P.L. 115-298, enacted December 7, 2018, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 21, 2018.
2019
P.L. 116-4, the TANF Extension Act of 2019, enacted January 24, 2019, a stand-alone TANF bil ,
extended TANF funding through June 30, 2019. (This legislation ended a TANF funding gap that
occurred after the expiration of P.L. 115-298 on December 21, 2018.)
P.L. 116-27, enacted July 5, 2019, a stand-alone TANF bil , extended TANF funding through
September 30, 2019.
P.L. 116-59, enacted September 27, 2019, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through November 21, 2019.
P.L. 116-69, enacted November 21, 2019, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 20, 2019.
P.L. 116-94, enacted December 20, 2019, a consolidated appropriations bil , extended TANF
funding through May 22, 2020.
2020
P.L. 116-136, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), enacted
March 27, 2020, extended TANF funding through November 30, 2020.
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The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History

P.L. 116-159, enacted October 1, 2020, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 11, 2020.
P.L. 116-215, enacted December 11, 2020, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 18, 2020.
P.L. 116-225, enacted December 18, 2020, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 20, 2020.
P.L. 116-226, enacted December 20, 2020, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 21, 2020.
P.L. 116-246, enacted December 22, 2020, a short-term continuing resolution, extended TANF
funding through December 28, 2020.
P.L. 116-260, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, enacted December 27, 2020, extended
TANF funding through September 30, 2021.

Author Information

Gene Falk

Specialist in Social Policy


Acknowledgments
This report received contributions from Emilie Stoltzfus, Karen Lynch, and Jessica Tollestrup of CRS’s
Domestic Social Policy Division. Additionally, the history of AFDC in this report drew a great deal upon
the work of Vee Burke, formerly of CRS’s Domestic Social Policy Division.

Disclaimer
This document was prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS serves as nonpartisan
shared staff to congressional committees and Members of Congress. It operates solely at the behest of and
under the direction of Congress. Information in a CRS Report should n ot be relied upon for purposes other
than public understanding of information that has been provided by CRS to Members of Congress in
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Congressional Research Service
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