This resolution, H. R. 38, originally limited the spending reduction to FY08 levels but was amended during debate in the House Committee on Rules on January 19 (see Memo, 1/21) to allow funding below FY08 levels. The resolution does not provide an amount for FY11 spending, only a threshold of FY08 or lower levels. The resolution allows Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair of the House Committee on the Budget, to establish this FY11 funding level independent from consideration of the Budget Committee, consistent with the rules package that the House adopted at the beginning of the session (see Memo, 1/7).
Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA), repeating concerns on the House floor that he raised in the Rules Committee hearing the week prior (see Memo, 1/21), argued that the resolution was not accountable to the American people because it did not include a budget figure and because it “continues the dangerous standard of letting one person make budget decisions.”
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said that the resolution is “without substance” and should instead have reflected a plan that lawmakers could understand and then vote on. In an effort to illustrate the conflict between the expected effect of the House resolution and longstanding duties of government, Ms. Jackson Lee asked, “Do we want a nation that does not invest in education? Do we want a nation that does not invest in jobs?”
For the House resolution to be implemented, the Senate would need to agree to establish FY11 discretionary funding at FY08 or lower levels, an unlikely possibility.
This debate on FY11 funding levels continues because Congress has not yet passed any FY11 appropriations bills. The federal government is currently funded under a continuing resolution (CR) that expires on March 4 (see Memo, 1/21). With this deadline fast approaching, Congress is expected to pass another short term CR that will provide lawmakers with an additional month or more to craft an FY11 appropriations plan. The House and Senate are expected to eventually come to agreement on a long term CR to provide FY11 funding and then proceed to consider the FY12 budget and appropriations.
The Campaign for Housing and Community Development (CHCDF), a group of 70 national organizations in which NLIHC participates, sent a letter to House and Senate leadership in advance of this vote, urging members to prevent damaging cuts to HUD housing and community development programs. The letter emphasized that, “the burden of deficit reduction should not fall on programs that provide critical support for the nation’s most vulnerable families and communities.” CHCDF members urged House and Senate leadership to prevent cuts to HUD programs in order to “shield vulnerable American families from the devastating effects of unaffordable housing costs, foreclosures and homelessness.”
CHCDF members also issued a press release after the vote, criticizing the House resolution. The release expressed CHCDF members’ views that Congress should “focus on long term stability and recognize that non-security discretionary spending programs are an extremely small fraction of government spending.”
Continuing the theme of spending reduction proposals, Republican Study Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) introduced the Spending Reduction Act of 2011, which would implement recommendations of the RSC’s recent report (see Memo, 1/21). The bill, H.R. 408, would amend the CR to reduce non-security discretionary spending to FY08 levels. The bill would also eliminate HUD’s Community Development Fund, HOPE VI program and doctoral dissertation research grants. Mr. Jordan’s bill had 24 co-sponsors upon introduction on January 24.
View the H.R. 38 vote results: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll020.xml
View CHCDF’s letter to leadership: http://www.nlihc.org/doc/CHCDF_Letter_House_Senate_1.24.11.pdf
View CHCDF’s press release: http://www.nlihc.org/doc/CHCDF_PR_1.25.11.pdf