Running Out of Time

Congress is back in session, but we are running out of time and vehicles for passing an extension of the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) before it expires on Sept. 30th. If ECF is not extended, Illinois will lose between 20 and 25 thousand jobs, all of which benefit low-income workers and their employers, most of which are small businesses. These business and workers URGENTLY need your voice in the call to extend the ECF program, a program that has created about 250,000 jobs for low-income, jobless workers across the country, many of them in Illinois.

The ECF is the single most effective job creation measure of the stimulus package. It has stimulated hiring and, in many cases, it has helped low-income and unemployed parents learn new job skills. It has also helped small businesses recover from the economic downturn and/or expand their companies. To keep the momentum of job creation going, ECF must be extended. Otherwise, 25,000 participants in the Put Illinois to Work (PITW) program will be jobless once more. Families, businesses, and communities will be hurt if Put Illinois to Work ends in just 16 days!

Since it appears likely that the tax extenders bill (the current vehicle for ECF) will not pass, our very last opportunity for getting the TANF ECF extended before Sept. 30th is a bill known as a “continuing resolution.” The continuing resolution (CR) is a bill that Congress must pass to keep the government running if the appropriations bills for the next fiscal year have not yet passed. Since the federal fiscal year ends on 9/30 and the FY2011 appropriations bills have still not passed, Congress must pass a continuing resolution by Sept 30th or key parts of the government lose all funding and cease to operate.

Congress passes a CR only to keep the government running until they can pass an omnibus appropriations bill. So this will be a short-term CR—it could be a five-week CR or could extend funding through next year. We don’t yet know its duration.

With a continuing resolution, decision making shifts to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. There is an urgent need to communicate the importance of Put Illinois to Work (funded by ECF) with its subsidized jobs for thousands of workers with the IL members of those two committees—Senator Durbin and Representatives Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Mark Kirk. We must move quickly since the decisions on the CR will be made very soon, perhaps before September 24th.

Please call Senator Durbin (202-224-2152), thank him for his leadership for the Put Illinois to Work program, and ask him to continue to champion the ECF funding in the continuing resolution. Then, please call Senator Burris (202-224-2854) and add his voice to those who are calling for the TANF ECF to be included in the CR.

If you live in Representative Kirk’s district (10th, 202-225-4835) or Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr.‘s district (2nd, 202-225-0773), please call him and ask him to work actively for the inclusion of the TANF ECF in the continuing resolution. Tell him that Illinois’ businesses and families cannot afford to lose 25,000 jobs at the end of September!

Thank you for your advocacy for small businesses and working families!

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