The House Committee on Appropriations approved the Fiscal Year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations bill on May 21 by a vote of 28 to 21. The measure, which was approved by the THUD Subcommittee on May 7, now awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives. The bill makes sizable cuts to several HUD programs (see Memo, 5/9),
Prior to the markup, the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) sent a letter to the members of the Committee, expressing serious concerns about the bill’s underfunding of virtually all HUD programs. (CHCDF is coalition of national organizations, coordinated by NLIHC, that work to maximize the HUD budget. Program allocations in the bill were constrained in part by the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the Federal Housing Administration’s receipts (see Memo, 4/18), which is $4.3 billion less than the President’s FY15 budget request projection.
In the letter, CHCDF members said they “are deeply concerned that the funding allocated to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the FY2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill recently passed out of Subcommittee is inadequate to protect the most vulnerable populations in the country. We are concerned that the bill’s funding levels for multiple HUD programs will halt the progress being made to reduce homelessness, create more affordable housing opportunities, and preserve existing affordable rental housing.”
The panel adopted three amendments at the mark-up: a manager’s amendment sponsored by Subcommittee Chair Tom Latham, an amendment offered by Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) related to voucher portability, and an amendment offered by Representative David Price (D-NC) to fund the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Subcommittee Chair Latham’s manager’s amendment, which includes noncontroversial changes to the bill, passed by voice vote. The manager’s amendment provided an increase in funding for the Housing for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program to $305.9 million, a $2.9 million increase over the Subcommittee mark. The report accompanying the manager’s amendment recommends that HUD work with congressional authorizers to modernize the HOPWA funding formula. The amendment also increases funding for the Housing Counseling program to $47 million, a $2 million increase over the Subcommittee mark. These increases are offset by a reduction to HUD’s information technology fund.
Mr. Schiff’s amendment directs HUD “to evaluate the effect of voucher portability on administrative costs to PHAs experiencing a large number of vouchers that are ported in from other jurisdictions.” HUD is directed to report to the Committee on Appropriations and congressional authorizers within 180 days of enactment.
Mr. Price’s amendment increases funding for the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness by $1 million. The increase is offset by a reduction to HUD’s information technology account.
A number of additional amendments were offered, but either were not agreed to or withdrawn.
Mr. Schiff offered and withdrew an amendment co-sponsored by Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) that would allow public housing agencies (PHAs) to be reimbursed for vouchers ported from the issuing PHA to another PHA on a monthly instead of annual basis. Subcommittee Chair Latham opposed the amendment, saying that the issue must be addressed by congressional authorizers.
Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) offered an amendment to increase funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The amendment, co-sponsored by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), Chakah Fattah (D-PA), and Tim Ryan (D-OH), failed by a vote of 22 to 28.
Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL) offered and withdrew an amendment to lift the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) unit cap from 60,000 to 250,000 units. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) spoke in support of the amendment. Subcommittee Chair Latham did not support the amendment because it fell under the jurisdiction of congressional authorizing committees. He also noted that House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) asked him not to include such a policy change in the FY15 bill (see Memo, 5/9). Mr. Quigley withdrew his amendment and said he would work with the authorizers, though he noted there were authorizing provisions included in the transportation portion of the bill.
Mr. Schiff and Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) offered an amendment to increase funding for the HOME Program by $900 million. The amendment failed by voice vote due to its lack of a funding offset.
Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) offered an amendment to increase funding for the Lead Hazard and Healthy Homes program, and withdrew it when the Chair opposed it due to the lack of an offset.
While there were not many changes to the funding levels agreed to in the Subcommittee mark-up, the bill’s report released at the mark-up provided additional clarity about a number of policy issues.
The bill provides $9.746 billion for the Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) account, including $400 million in advance appropriations for contract renewals. In the report, the Committee notes that the bill does not provide full funding for 12-month contract renewals, but directs HUD to follow the proposal in the President’s FY15 budget request that calls for PBRA contracts to shift to a calendar year funding cycle (see Memo, 3/7). The Committee notes that “the recommendation expects HUD to plan for the sustainability of the new payment cycle beyond the calendar year 2014, and expects HUD to accurately reflect the twelve months of funding required to support the new approach in its annual budget request for fiscal year 2016.” Advocates estimate that an additional $1.2 billion over the FY15 level will be needed in FY16 to assure enough funding for 12-month renewals.
The bill provides $19.36 billion for tenant-based rental assistance, which Subcommittee Chair Latham indicated will be sufficient funding to renew all existing vouchers. Report language urges congressional authorizers to take up the authorizing provisions related to the Housing Choice Voucher program, with the goal of enacting a reform bill prior to the start of FY15.
While Mr. Price’s amendment increased funding for USICH, the Committee report included language indicating that in advance of the 2016 sunset of USICH’s authorization, the Committee expects USICH to begin winding down its activities and help the 19 federal agencies that are USICH members to establish working relationships. The report language discourages USICH from hiring for new and vacant positions.
At the end of the markup, Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) unexpectedly offered an amendment to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, noting that as recently as 2006 and 2007, such proposals had some Republican support, including from Republicans on the Appropriations Committee. Committee on Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) said Ms. DeLauro’s offering of the amendment at the “last minute is abhorrent,” and Subcommittee Chair Latham said that if the amendment was adopted “the bill would be dead.” Chair Rodgers moved forward on a vote on the amendment, without yielding back time to Ms. DeLauro to give closing remarks. The amendment failed, and during the vote on passage of the bill Ms. DeLauro responded “hell no” when her name was called in the roll.
Read the CHCDF letter at: http://bit.ly/1jWMHew
Read the FY15 draft bill at: http://1.usa.gov/1jat9i1
Read the FY15 committee report at: http://1.usa.gov/1jVaSFq
Read the adopted amendments at: http://1.usa.gov/1lOU6ti
Watch an archived markup webcast at: http://1.usa.gov/1lOU6ti