Congress returns from its Labor Day recess on September 6. High on the agendas of both the House and Senate are appropriations and deficit reduction work. In this issue of Memo, we summarize the latest appropriations and Super Committee news, and provide brief updates on policy issues. Our policy fact sheets are updated for September, and are available on our website at http://nlihc.org/template/page.cfm?id=228.
Congress has yet to begin the process of passing an FY12 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) bill for the coming fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2011.
The House T-HUD appropriations committee was scheduled to mark-up a bill prior to August recess, but the markup was postponed until after Congress passed a debt ceiling package. This package, the Budget Control Act of 2011, was signed into law on August 2 and establishes a cap for non-security discretionary spending for a ten-year period beginning in FY12 (see Memo, 8/5, 8/19).
With this cap established, the House and Senate will not need to negotiate an overall spending cap, which would ordinarily be established by budget resolutions. The House appropriations committee passed its allocations for subcommittees (302b levels) in May. These were lower than the FY12 levels agreed to in the Budget Control Act (see Memo, 5/27). The House could now adjust some or all of its subcommittee allocations to reflect this new cap.
If the House does adjust its 302b allocations, in theory, funding for the T-HUD or Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug, and Related Agencies subcommittees could increase. The T-HUD allocation was 14% below the FY10 level and 36% below the President’s request for FY11 (see Memo, 5/13). The Agriculture appropriations subcommittee navigated its low 302b allocation by cutting the Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance program (see Memo, 6/17). This cut could result in tens of thousands of households losing their housing.
The House T-HUD subcommittee will mark up its bill on September 8 at 4pm in Room 2358A of the Rayburn House Office Building. House leadership does not intend to bring any additional appropriations bills to the floor this year, which means the two remaining House appropriations bills will likely be passed in an omnibus appropriations bill.
In the Senate, the Committee on Appropriations will set its 302b allocations for its 12 subcommittees on September 7 at 3pm in Room 106 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building. The T-HUD Appropriations subcommittee has not yet scheduled its markup. The Senate subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug, and Related Agencies will report out its bill without holding a markup. The Committee on Appropriations will hold a full committee mark-up of the FY12 Agriculture bill on September 8 at 3pm in Room 106 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building.
The House and Senate are also expected to immediately begin working on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) as it is unlikely that Congress will complete the 12 appropriations bills prior to the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1. To expedite its appropriations work, Congress may pass an omnibus bill including appropriations bills that are agreed to prior to the start of the fiscal year.
View NLIHC’s budget chart at http://www.nlihc.org/doc/FY11-Budget-Chart.pdf
The Budget Control Act of 2011, enacted in August, calls for the creation of a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the Super Committee (see Memo, 8/5, 8/19). This committee is charged with identifying $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction that must be approved by the end of the calendar year. If the committee does not meet its deficit reduction goal or if Congress does not approve the committee’s plan, a sequestration process will go into effect that could cut additional funds from non-security discretionary spending.
During the week of August 29, committee members began working in partisan groups. Republican members of the committee held a conference call on August 30 and Democratic members met on August 31. The co-chairs of the committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) hired a staff director for the committee, Mark Prater. Mr. Prater is the former deputy staff director and Republican tax counsel for the Senate Finance committee.
The committee will hold its first meeting, which is expected to cover organizational issues, on September 8. The committee is expected to hire additional staff and release its schedule during the week of September 5.
Section 8 Voucher Reform
Action on the draft Section 8 Savings Act (see Memo, 6/24) is expected again in the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity. The Subcommittee is expecting to hold a second hearing on the draft during the third week of September.
HUD began circulating its Rental Assistance Demonstration draft legislation to House and Senate offices in August (see Memo, 8/26). The proposal would allow public housing agencies to convert current public housing subsidy streams to project-based Section 8 subsidy contracts, theoretically providing enough extra revenue so PHAs can take on private loans to rehabilitate their projects. NLIHC is currently reviewing the proposal.
Project-Based Section 8
Advocates hope Hill action on project-based Section 8 will include authorization to extend the Mark to Market program before it sunsets on September 30. Without such reauthorization, Section 8 properties will continue to be required to mark their rents down to market levels, but the authority to restructure mortgage loans so that rents paid can cover the new mortgage will evaporate.
Low Income Housing Tax Credits
In addition to defending the low income housing tax credit from deficit hawks, advocates will pursue legislation to make the 9% credit’s fixed floor rate permanent and establish a similar fixed floor rate for the 4% credit.