Republicans today blocked a bill by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Robert Casey (D-Pa.), that would have saved jobs and strengthened state safety nets for our country's most vulnerable families. The Job Preservation for Parents in Poverty Act (S. 3849) would have extended the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund until December 31, 2010. The cost of the bill was fully offset and would have extended benefits set to expire on September 30, 2010.
The Job Preservation for Parents in Poverty Act is also co-sponsored by Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Roland Burris (D-Ill.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).
Since its creation in 2009, the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund has provided states with funding to create approximately 250,000 subsidized jobs for low-income individuals. The fund has also been used to strengthen state safety nets by providing basic cash assistance to the poor families to help with basic needs like housing and heating bills, domestic violence services, and transportation costs. When the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund expires this Thursday tens of thousands of jobs will be lost as well as this vital assistance for low-income families.
"This extension is fully paid for and widely supported, yet every time we try to pass it we're met with a unified wall of resistance," said Sen. Kerry. "We can't keep getting caught up in political games at a time when workers are hurting and more Americans are living in poverty than at any point in the past half century."
"This federal initiative has funded the Put Illinois to Work program -- helping 26,000 people find meaningful jobs in Illinois," said Sen. Durbin. "Many on the other side of the aisle have taken a party-line position to oppose this bill no matter what, which is unfortunate for those Americans who are trying to find a way to survive in this economy. With an unemployment rate of 10.4%, my state needs this program. The loss of 26,000 jobs would be a crushing blow."
"This program works and has created over 12,000 jobs in Pennsylvania where it has the support of workers, employers and local officials," said Sen. Casey. "Unfortunately, these people will lose their jobs if Republicans in the Senate don't drop their opposition."
The Job Preservation for Parents in Poverty Act is fully paid for by reducing the regular TANF Contingency Fund in FY 2012 by $500 million. In a procedural move, Republicans objected to proceeding on the bill thus blocking the extension of the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund.
Senator Kerry has worked to preserve this vital program since March, when legislation he co-authored with Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to extend the program was blocked by Senate Republicans. This TANF Emergency Contingency Fund extension was subsequently included in legislation and again blocked by Senate Republicans in May, June, and September. Earlier this month Senator Kerry joined with 30 other Senators in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus insisting that a one-year extension of the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund be included in any upcoming legislative package.