The full House Appropriations Committee voted on July 12 to report the FY18 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) spending bill to the House. While the proposed bill rejects President Trump’s more drastic proposals to eliminate or severely cut funding for rural housing and development programs, the bill would still significantly reduce funding for these programs from FY17 spending levels. Several members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture have previously stated that these programs warrant growth, not bare-minimum investments.
During her opening statement, Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) stressed the need to develop a bipartisan budget deal that lifts harmful spending caps. “Until a bipartisan process commences to raise caps on defense and non-defense spending, this is all for naught,” she said. “Appropriations laws will not be enacted until we reach a common agreement on raising spending caps to more acceptable levels that enable us to adequately support our economy, protect the American people, and invest in a promising future for hardworking families.”
The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF), convened by NLIHC, has called on Congress to provide relief from these austere spending caps and to ensure affordable housing, community development, and transportation programs receive the highest allocation of discretionary funds possible. CHCDF also urges Congress to continue to treat defense and nondefense programs equally when providing budget relief.
During the hearing, Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced an amendment to allow vacant or underutilized units supported by the Section 514 Farm Labor Housing Loan program to house legally admitted temporary workers, including H-2A workers. “H-2A employment has doubled over the past four years around the country,” Mr. Newhouse stated. “Section 514 loans should reflect that reality and not exclude those workers from housing that is intended for farm laborers.” Mr. Newhouse’s amendment passed by a voice vote.
The bill will next go to the full House for a final vote, but it is unclear if and when it will be taken up on the floor of the House.
Read the draft FY18 USDA spending bill at: http://bit.ly/2uSk2B2.
Review NLIHC’s budget chart at: http://bit.ly/1SowzjU.
Watch a recording of the vote at: http://bit.ly/2uRY9C0.
Learn more about federal budget and appropriations at: http://nlihc.org/issues/budget.