REAUTHORIZATION UPDATE

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FYI: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told reporters yesterday that he doesn’t expect his chamber will get to the contentious business of reauthorizing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program this year, according to Congressional Quarterly. TANF has been running on a temporary extension since the 1996 welfare reform law officially expired last fall, as legislators have been unable to agree on a number of adjustments to the program. Earlier in the week, the Department of Health and Human Services released the latest caseload data, championing a drop in both families and individuals receiving public assistance. In New York, the number of individuals in TANF dropped 12.6 percent between March 2002 and 2003, to 341,000. Families fell 8.6 percent to just under 150,000. The Center for Budget Policy and Priorities quickly pointed out that this week the Census Bureau also put out data showing a rise in child poverty rates, arguing that these and other economic indicators make the rapid fall in TANF rolls troubling. [9/5/03]