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Statement on Legal Decision Regarding TANF Program

Edda Emmanuelli Perez, Managing Associate General Counsel at GAO, issued the following statement today regarding to a legal opinion GAO issued. The full opinion can be found here: (

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sep. 4, 2012) – "In a legal opinion requested by Senator Orrin Hatch, Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on Finance and Representative Dave Camp, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, the GAO General Counsel's Office determined that the Department of Health and Human Services' recent memo making changes to operation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program constitutes a rule for purposes of the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Under the CRA, the rule must be submitted to both Houses of Congress before it can take effect.

The CRA is intended to keep Congress informed of the rulemaking activities of federal agencies and provides that before a rule can take effect, the agency must submit the rule to each House of Congress and the Comptroller General, head of the GAO. GAO concluded that the Information Memorandum issued by HHS is a statement of general applicability and future effect, designed to implement, interpret, or prescribe law or policy with regard to TANF and is a rule under the Congressional Review Act. Therefore, under the CRA, it must be submitted to both Houses of Congress before it can take effect."

For more information, contact Chuck Young, Managing Director of Public Affairs, at 202-512-4800.


The Government Accountability Office, known as the investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities. GAO also works to improve the performance of the federal government and ensure its accountability to the American people. The agency examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability.

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