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FYI: The Senate Finance Committee passed its version of a TANF reauthorization bill yesterday, sparking speculation about the welfare program’s fate just days after Majority Leader Bill Frist said the Senate is unlikely to get to it this year. TANF has been running on a temporary extension since last fall. While the Finance Committee bill drew less rancor from advocates than the one the House passed in February, it still presents several controversial proposals. States would have to put 70 percent of program participants to work in some capacity by 2008. To qualify as work, single parents with kids over six would have to put in 34 hours a week (up from 30), while people in two-parent families would have to work 39 hours (up from 30). Meanwhile, the bill adds $200 million a year in child care funding—between $20 million and $100 million less than what the Congressional Budget Office estimates will be needed if the new work requirements are to be met. The bill also provides up to $1.5 billion in marriage promotion grants, research and demonstration projects. It remains unclear if the full Senate will take up the bill this year. [9/11/03]

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