Last week’s Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) released similar bills to extend the Court Improvement Program (CIP). The CIP is part of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program. It provides approximately $30 million a year to all fifty states through their state court systems to better link and educate judges on child welfare issues.
The CIP, like the overall Title IV-B programs, PSSF and Child Welfare Services (Title IV-B part 1) are operating under an expired reauthorization since October 1, 2016. They, along with the CIP, have been given temporary extensions through the various appropriations and CRs that have been passed since last year.
The CIP is a quirk in their budget scoring. Although an extension of PSSF and CWS would not cost Congress any increased funding (budget score), the CIP always costs $20 million a year to extend even though it does not increase spending.
The two bills, the Continuation of Useful Resources To States Act (H.R. 4461/ S.2173), would extend the program in a way that would attempt to fix the budget problem so that in the next reauthorization CBO will no longer score the extension as having a cost (similar to the way the PSSF mandatory funds work). The Senate bill does not contain an offset, but the House version would raid the TANF contingency fund at $200 million to pay for it. This is consistent with Chairman Brady’s directive that child welfare (and other programs in the Human Resources Subcommittee get their “pay-fors” from other programs in that subcommittee (TANF, SSI, child welfare, etc.)