Thursday, November 11, 2010

So Much To Do, So Little Time

Thank you to the Coalition on Human Needs for putting the below information together.

On November 15, Congress is scheduled to return for a few weeks. In that short amount of time, members have numerous issues to deal with from tax cuts to the extension of unemployment insurance. Below is information about just some of the many important issues Congress will be deciding:

Taxes: If the tax cuts made in 2001 or 2003 (as known as the Bush tax cuts) are extended, Congress will have to decide if the improvements to the refundable Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit included in the Recovery Act will be part of that extension.

Unemployment Insurance: In July, Congress extended federal unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed through the end of November. Unless Congress acts this fall, the unemployed will once again face the abrupt termination of their unemployment compensation.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization: In August of 2009, the Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (S. 3307). The Act would make it easier for some low-income children to qualify for free school meals. It also increases the federal reimbursement for school meals by six cents per meal, and expands access to afterschool and summer meals. These changes come at the cost of reducing future SNAP (food stamps) benefits. At the House level, legislators would like more funding, greater expansion of summer food and school breakfast programs, and access to programs made easier, all without the cost of reducing SNAP benefits. Members of the House plan to seek assurances from the Administration that it will find other ways to prevent the cuts to SNAP if the bill is passed.

TANF Emergency Fund: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) was made more responsive to rising poverty and joblessness through the creation of the TANF Emergency Fund, included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. States received a share of $5 billion over two years if they increased ongoing aid or short-term assistance for poor families, or if they set up temporary subsidized jobs programs. The TANF Emergency Fund was allowed to expire on September 30, even though its effectiveness was proven through its creation of 250,000 jobs for low-income parents and teenagers. It is possible that the program will be reinstated as part of another bill.

For more information about these and other issues see the Coalition on Human Needs, Issues to be Resolved in the Lame Duck Session.

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