The House of Representatives began consideration of its FY16 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriation bill on June 3. After additional debate and votes on amendments on June 4, the House adjourned for the weekend. Consideration of the bill, H.R. 2577, will resume on June 9.
The bill, passed by the House Committee on Appropriations on May 13 (see Memo, 5/18), adheres to the Budget Control Act of 2011’s sequester spending caps that hold nondefense discretionary FY16 spending flat with FY15 levels. For the THUD bill, the sequester caps result in decreased or insufficient funds for many programs.
House THUD Subcommittee Ranking Member David Price (D-NC) spoke in opposition to the bill on the House floor, stating, “This bill clearly illustrates the folly of dogmatically cutting domestic appropriations as the sole focus of deficit reduction, while leaving the main drivers of the deficit unaddressed.”
Several housing related amendments were taken up on the House floor on June 3-4 before the House adjourned. Amendments that passed include two from Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL). One would increase funding for the Section 202 program by $2.5 million, offset by a reduction to HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research. The second would increase funding for limited English proficiency activities within HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity from $300,000 to $450,000 and offset it with a decrease to HUD’s technology fund. Both amendments passed by voice vote.
Also passed by voice vote was an amendment from Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) to increase funding for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program by $3 million, offset by a reduction to HUD’s technology fund. Mr. Nadler also tried to increase funding for tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA) by $1.2 billion, but without an offset, it was ruled out of order. Representative Al Green (D-TX) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) also offered amendments to improve voucher funding that were rejected without a vote for lacking offsets.
Fortunately, an amendment offered by Representative Glenn Grotham (R-WI) to cut TBRA by $614 million, the amount by which H.R. 2577 would increase TBRA, was defeated by voice vote.
An amendment by House Committee on Financial Services Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) to remove the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles’ (HACoLA) exemption from the requirement to have a resident of public housing or a voucher tenant on the housing authority’s governing board passed by a voice vote. “I’ve learned that the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles is not in compliance with the requirements outlined in this exemption, which has directly resulted in a lack of meaningful engagement by residents of the housing authority to important policy issues impacting the effectiveness of the programs,” Representative Waters said. The exemption, which currently applies to HACoLA and public housing agencies in Alaska, Iowa, and Mississippi, is granted if the exempted agency establishes an advisory board of not less than six residents of public housing or voucher holders “to provide advice and comment to the public housing agency or other administering entity on issues related to public housing and Section 8.” These advisory boards must meet no less than quarterly.
Still to be considered when the House resumes debate on June 9 is an amendment filed by Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to cut every program funded by H.R. 2577 by an additional 1%. Additional amendments still may be filed, including those to cut or increase funding for HUD programs.
Other amendments that were or will be considered by the full House are covered in the NHTF article above and the Fair Housing article below.
On June 2, the White House issued a veto threat through a Statement of Administration Policy, which reads in part, “At a time when only one in four families who are eligible for housing assistance actually receives it, the bill would set back efforts to end homelessness and shortchange housing support for very low-income households, including families with children, the elderly, and the disabled…The President's senior advisors would recommend that he veto H.R. 2577 and any other legislation that implements the current Republican budget framework, which blocks the investments needed for our economy to compete in the future.”
The Senate Committee on Appropriations THUD Subcommittee is expected to take up its bill in late June or early July.
At a Democratic leadership meeting on June 2, it is reported that Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that Senate Democrats will filibuster all appropriations bills that come to the Senate floor.
Advocates should call their Representatives’ offices on Monday June 8 and Tuesday, June 9 to urge that they vote against H.R. 2577.
A statement by House THUD Ranking Member Price is at http://price.house.gov/press-releases/price-opening-statement-in-thud-general-debate/
A White House fact sheet on appropriations bills is at https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2016/assets/fact_sheets/house-republicans-shortchange-critical-middle-class-priorities.pdf
The White House veto threat on H.R. 2577 is at https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/114/saphr2577r_20150601.pdf