H.R. 3567: Welfare Integrity Now for Children and Families Act of 2011, as amended

H.R. 3567

Welfare Integrity Now for Children and Families Act of 2011, as amended

Date
February 1, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, February 1, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 3567 under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval. The bill was introduced on December 6, 2011, by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) and referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3567 would require states receiving federal grants through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to maintain policies that prevent TANF assistance from being used in a transaction in any of the following places:

  • Any liquor store;
  • Any casino, gambling casino, or gaming establishment; or
  • Any retail establishment which provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment.

The bill would define a “liquor store” as “any retail establishment which sells exclusively or primarily intoxicating liquor.” Further, the bill would stipulate that a “casino” does not include “a grocery store which sells groceries including such staple foods and which also offers, or is located within the same building or complex as, casino, gambling, or gaming activities.”

To enforce the requirement established in this legislation, the bill would require that federal TANF assistance be reduced by 5 percent in any state that does not report its implementation of these policies within two years.  The reduction would be enforced in the fiscal year immediately succeeding the year in which two-year period ends and would continue each year until the state demonstrates that these policies have been implemented.

Background

In 1996, President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, a largely Republican bill that overhauled the federal welfare program.  The legislation replaced the entitlement program known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with a block grant program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).  The passage of TANF changed the way that federal cash benefits are given to needy people in the U.S. by requiring welfare recipients to engage in a minimum amount of monthly work activity. The bulk of federal TANF funding is in a basic block grant to states that totals $16.5 billion per year. States are also required to expend a certain amount of their own funds on TANF-related programs, under what is called a maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement, equal to a total minimum of $10.4 billion per year. 

The House has already approved legislation that contained prohibitions on the use of welfare funds in strip clubs, liquor stores, and casinos by blocking welfare Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards from working in transactions at those locations. On December 13, 2011, the House approved H.R. 3630, legislation to extend the payroll tax holiday for all of 2012 and also extended the authorization of the TANF program.  The bill included language that banned the use of EBT cards in the same locations as the underlying legislation.  That bill was approved in the House by bi-partisan vote of 234-193. However, Senate Democrats refused to approve the legislation and instead would only agree to a short term extension (H.R. 3765) of the TANF program for just two months and did not include a prohibition against welfare funds from being accessed in strip clubs, liquor stores, and casinos. In addition, the House approved a stand-alone TANF extension (H.R. 3659) that would have extended the program for one year as well as blocked funds from being used in strip clubs, liquor stores, and casinos.  The Senate has yet to consider that legislation.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate for H.R. 3567 was not available as of press time.