Though Congress is in recess until after the 2012 election, some Members of the House and Senate are working on averting the approaching sequester of discretionary funds while Congress is in recess. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) requires the Administration to sequester FY13 discretionary funds, which means making across-the-board cuts to achieve a $1.2 trillion reduction in the deficit over a 10-year period beginning January 2, 2013 (see Memo, 10/5).
Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations, sent a letter to his colleagues on October 9 in which he reported on the consequences of sequestration. He estimates the impact that sequestration would have on multiple programs, including affordable housing programs. The report says that sequestration would result in 200,000 fewer participants receiving Tenant-Based Rental Assistance and would result in evictions of current tenants. The report also estimates that 100,000 fewer people would be served by HUD’s Homeless Assistance funds, causing formerly homeless people to return to homelessness (see Memo, 9/14).
Meanwhile, the bipartisan group of Senators now known as the “Gang of Eight” (previously, the “Gang of Six”) met for three days during the week of October 8 to work on their proposal to replace the sequester with a more tenable deficit reduction strategy and deal with the tax cuts set to expire at the end of the calendar year (see Memo, 10/5). The members of this group are Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Michael D. Crapo (R-ID), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), and Mark Warner (D-VA). The group’s proposal may influence a Senate leadership bill to replace sequestration and address the deficit during the post-November election “lame duck” session of Congress.
Advocates continued to call on Members of Congress to prevent deep cuts to resources for vulnerable households. NLIHC joined more than 1,900 national, state and local organizations in signing an October 9 letter to Congress calling for Members to “protect low-income and vulnerable people; promote job creation to strengthen the economy; increase revenues from fair sources; and seek responsible savings by targeting wasteful spending in the Pentagon and in other areas that do not serve the public interest.” The organizations wrote, “A balanced approach that raises revenues, promotes tax fairness, and seeks responsible Pentagon and other savings will allow us to achieve national goals of economic growth, economic security for our people, and fiscal stability.”