The House of Representatives spent four days during the week of February 14 considering H.R. 1, the Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act for FY11. The resolution proposed deep cuts to many HUD programs that would result in households current affordably housed losing their housing, becoming severely rent burdened, and experiencing an increased risk of homelessness (see Memo, 2/11). The bill passed in the early hours of February 19 by a vote of 235 to 189, with all Democrats and three Republicans voting against it.
The federal government is currently funded through a Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires on March 4. To avoid a government shutdown, the House and Senate must agree on a resolution, in lieu of passing the 12 appropriations bills that fund the federal government. The Senate is not likely to approve the House measure, but is expected to propose a freeze of non-defense discretionary spending at FY10 levels. House Speaker John Boehner (OH) has indicated that the House will not compromise on the FY11 levels proposed in H.R. 1, increasing the chance of a government shutdown.
The Administration issued a Statement on Administration Policy (SAP) on February 15 in opposition to H.R. 1. The SAP says that the deep cuts proposed in the House resolution would “undermine our ability to out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate the rest of the world.” The President committed to vetoing a bill that “curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation.”
H.R. 1 was the second attempt by the House leadership to craft an FY11 bill. When House Committee on Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) released a partial list of proposed programmatic cuts on February 9, he faced outcry from more conservative members of his party that cuts were not deep enough. The Committee had planned to cut $58 billion below the President’s FY11 request but opponents within the Republican party pressed for cuts that would reach $100 billion. H.R. 1 met the goal of cutting $100 billion prior to reaching the House floor.
During the five days of consideration of H.R. 1, activity on the House floor was consumed by a portion of the 583 amendments filed. These amendments ranged from deeper cuts to specific programs to changes to prevent implementation of legislation passed in the 111th Congress.
Of the 71 amendments that passed, no amendments would cut HUD programs further than those cuts initially proposed (see Memo, 2/11). There were also no successful amendments to cut the overall funding level of the bill.
H.R. 1 would keep most USDA housing programs and HUD’s Rural Innovation Fund at their FY10 funding levels. It would eliminate funds for two USDA rental housing preservation programs: the Multi-Family Preservation and Revitalization Demonstration and the Preservation Revolving Loan Fund.
USDA housing assistance vouchers, which keep rents affordable for tenants whose landlords prepay their USDA-funded mortgages and are no longer subject to affordability restrictions, would receive funding under H.R. 1 in order to protect current tenants. Similar to HUD’s enhanced vouchers, the vouchers do not protect long-term affordability for the properties, however, and cannot be used by new tenants.
Our thanks to the Housing Assistance Council (www.ruralhome.org) for their contribution to this article.