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Summary of Technical and Conforming Amendments to Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193)

Published: December 16, 2006
Audience:
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Topics:
Laws, Regulations
Types:
Policy Document
Tags:
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193)

Summary of Technical and Conforming Amendments to Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193)

Implementation of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act is proceeding smoothly at both the federal and state levels. To date, 37 states have submitted Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) state plans, and many have already begun to reform their welfare programs. The changes in other programs are also proceeding smoothly.

Section 113 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Commissioner of Social Security, in consultation with other federal agencies, to submit to the appropriate committees of Congress legislative proposals for technical and conforming amendments necessary to bring the statutory language into conformity with the policies enacted in this new legislation.

A thorough consultation process was conducted among affected agencies to identify provisions in the new law that require technical or conforming amendments to PRWORA. Each proposal includes an explanation of the specific problem that has been identified and a statutory amendment to address the problem in a manner that maintains the spirit and intent of the new law. Early enactment of these technical and conforming amendments will assist the Administration and the States to implement the new law successfully.

Amendments are proposed to the following Titles: Title I (Block Grants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)), Title II (Supplemental Security Income), Title III (Child Support), Title IV (Restricting Welfare and Public Benefits for Aliens), Title V (Child Protection), Title VI (Child Care), and Title VIII (Food Stamps and Commodity Distribution). With the exception of two amendments, which have some costs, we estimate all of the amendments have negligible costs.

The following summarizes the type and nature of the technical amendments contained in this report.

Resolve Inconsistent Terminology: In several instances, the new law inadvertently uses incorrect or inconsistent terminology. For example, PRWORA establishes mandatory work requirements, but uses the phrase "participating in work activities" in some places and the phrase "making progress in work activities" in others. To resolve this inconsistency, an amendment is proposed to use the phrase "participating in work activities" throughout these provisions. (p.6)

Conform Dates: Amendments are proposed to conform or revise a number of dates utilized in the statute. For example, the new law requires states to "look back" to prior AFDC eligibility standards to determine eligibility for Medicaid and for Foster Care and Adoption Assistance. However, the statute utilizes two different look back dates (June 1, 1995 and July 16, 1996) -- creating administrative burdens on the states. An amendment is proposed to use the July 16, 1996 look-back date for both programs. (p.31)

Make Data Elements Uniform: Upon further review of the data and reporting requirements in PRWORA, several amendments are proposed to ensure reference to uniform, accurate and available data sources. The new law does not, for example, specify the data used to calculate historic state expenditures for maintenance of effort purposes. In order to establish a fixed and consistent maintenance of effort level, an amendment is proposed to specify that the same data elements used to calculate the TANF state family assistance grants be used to calculate historic state expenditures. (p.13)

Another data problem arises with the state bonus for reductions in rates of illegitimacy. While the statute explicitly requires the calculation of one data source on a fiscal-year basis, this data is currently available on a calendar-year basis only. Thus, an amendment is proposed to allow calculation of the bonus using the data available on a calendar-year basis in order to avoid the burden and expense of new data collection requirements. (p.3)

Clarify Congressional Intent: Several amendments are proposed to conform statutory language to congressional intent. For example, the new law establishes several penalties on states for failure to comply with various provisions. However, it also prohibits imposition of the penalties in certain reasonable cause instances and then makes specified exceptions to the reasonable cause prohibition. Because the conference report specifies additional exceptions to the reasonable cause prohibition (e.g. failure to repay the loan fund, and failure to replace grant reductions caused by penalties) beyond those included in the statute, an amendment is proposed to include those specified exceptions in statute. (p.18)

Another amendment is proposed to clarify congressional intent with respect to access to federal programs for qualified alien widow(er)s of persons who have served in the military. While the new law prohibits certain federal benefits for qualified aliens, it provides an exception for the spouse or unmarried dependent child of veterans or active duty military personnel. In order to clarify that qualified alien widow(er)s do not lose eligibility for these benefits when the veteran or active duty personnel dies, an amendment is proposed to except widow(er)s of such personnel from the general prohibition. (p.66)

Close Gaps Between Previous Law and New Statute: In a few instances, the transition from the previous law to the new statute inadvertently left gaps in the application or coverage of various laws. For example, the Attorney General is required to develop a new legally enforceable affidavit of support for aliens entering the country after enactment of PRWORA. At the same time, the authority for states to deem sponsor income for aliens already in the country was repealed with respect to TANF. Because this leaves states with no authority to deem sponsor income for current aliens for TANF, an amendment is proposed to reinstate the previous deeming requirement, and make it applicable to all affidavits of support executed before the effective date of the new requirement. (p.72)

Conform Provisions and Correct Citations: A number of amendments are proposed to correct citations and references in the new law, and to add further conforming amendments.

 

December 16, 1996