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Spending Too Much, Accomplishing Too Little: An Analysis of the Family Formation Provisions of H.R. 4737 and Recommendations for Change

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H.R. 4737, the TANF reauthorization bill passed by the House in May, encourages states to make more efforts to promote marriage and, to a lesser extent, responsible fatherhood. The bill also earmarks substantial funds -- $1.6 billion -- almost exclusively for the promotion and support of marriage.

This paper provides an in-depth analysis of the various provisions in the bill regarding: (1) program purposes and maintenance of effort clauses, (2) the provision of TANF benefits to two-parent families, (3) the establishment of marriage performance goals, and (4) funding for marriage and fatherhood activities. In each section, the authors offer recommendations for the Senate to consider as it takes up TANF reauthorization.