CHN: Senate Workforce Investment Act Bill Passes Committee
Articles from October 10, 2003
- TANF Bill Moves….Slowly
Congress enacted a six-month extension of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) just before the September 30 expiration of the program. Continuing TANF through the end of March signals the willingness of both the House and Senate to put off full reauthorization of TANF until the new year. Senate leadership sources have suggested that TANF may come up on the Senate floor in February.
- Budget Committees Targeting ‘Waste, Fraud, and Abuse’
The Fiscal Year 2004 budget resolution directed 15 House committees and 12 Senate committees to identify examples of “waste, fraud and abuse” in the mandatory entitlement programs under their jurisdiction. The Budget committees set a target savings amount equal to one percent of the entitlement spending of each authorizing committee’s jurisdiction, for a total savings of $132 billion dollars. The resolution directed committees to identify waste and also to identify legislative changes that will produce savings. These savings could be used for future budget resolutions. The reports from the authorizing committees, coupled with a report by the GAO, can now be found on the Budget Committee web site. You will also find Chairman Nussle’s four page report: “Sampling of Waste, Fraud and Abuse.”
- Medicare Conference Continues Through Senate Recess
Over the last few weeks, conferees for the Medicare prescription drug legislation have been meeting to work out major differences between the House and Senate proposals. This past week conference negotiations focused on low-income beneficiaries, or “dual eligibles.” Dual eligibles are people old enough to qualify for Medicare but whose income level also qualify them for Medicaid. The Senate bill forces dual eligibles to receive their prescription drug coverage under Medicaid, a position supported by the White House because it transfers some of the cost (estimated at $47 billion) from the federal government to states. The House bill does not include such a requirement and treats that population as Medicare beneficiaries as has been done since the beginning of the program in 1965.
- Senate Workforce Investment Act Bill Passes Committee
On Wednesday, October 2, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee quickly approved a bill ( S 1627 ) that would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The bill is the result of a bipartisan effort in the committee and has important differences from the House bill. Unlike the House bill, the Senate version would not block grant the funding for the three major programs in WIA and would bar faith-based groups from receiving federal funds who use discriminate based on religion in their hiring procedures.
- Action Needed to Preserve SSBG Funding Restoration
In April the Senate voted 95 to 5 to include the SSBG funding restoration and the ten percent TANF transfer authority as part of the CARE Act (S 476). The House companion bill (HR 7), passed in September, does include SSBG restoration (See Human Needs Report story September 12, 2003). The path to a House-Senate conference on the bill has rocky, because an array of Senators have concerns with various provisions in the bill. Nevertheless, advocates for full SSBG funding have been gearing up to persuade House and Senate leaders to include restoration of funds for any charitable giving bill that comes out of conference.