The House Committee on Appropriations released a “Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act” for FY11 on February 11. The FY11 bill, which the full House is expected to vote on the week of February 14, would make unprecedented cuts to many HUD programs. The Senate is not expected to approve the measure, but many Democratic and Republican Senators have vowed to attack the federal deficit and some cuts are likely in any FY11 spending agreement.
This was the second attempt by the House leadership to craft an FY11 bill. House Committee on Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) released a partial list of proposed programmatic cuts on February 9, when the Committee was working to release cuts totaling $58 billion compared to the FY11 request. The only HUD program on this preview list was the Community Development Fund, which Republican appropriators intend to cut by $530 million. Pressured by the far right wing of his party, Chair Rogers announced on February 10 that his cuts would surpass his original goal of $58 billion and reach the $100 billion mark sought by other Republicans.
In a press release on February 10, Chairman Rogers said, “after meeting with my subcommittee Chairs, we have determined that the CR can and will reach a total of $100 billion in cuts compared to the President’s request immediately - fully meeting the goal outlined in the Republican ‘Pledge to America’ in one fell swoop. Our intent is to make deep but manageable cuts in nearly every area of government, leaving no stone unturned and allowing no agency or program to be held sacred. I have instructed my committee to include these deeper cuts, and we are continuing to work to complete this critical legislation.”
In releasing the bill with these even deeper cuts a day later, Chairman Rogers stated, “this CR legislation represents the largest single discretionary spending reduction in the history of Congress. The cuts in this CR are the result of difficult work by our subcommittees who have weeded out excessive, unnecessary, and wasteful spending, making tough choices to prioritize programs based on their effectiveness and benefit to the American people. My committee has taken a thoughtful look at each and every one of the programs we intend to cut, and have made determinations based on this careful analysis.”
The new bill would cut more than $5.7 billion from HUD programs compared to the FY10 enacted level of about $43.5 billion. In addition, the bill would make more than $394 million in rescissions from unobligated balances in HUD programs and rescind all unobligated balances remaining as of February 11, 2011 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, except those related to unemployment assistance and state fiscal relief.
The bill would make positive adjustments compared to FY10 spending for three HUD programs: $715 million for project-based rental assistance, $51 million for information technology, and $18 million for the Federal Housing Administration’s mutual mortgage insurance program’s administrative expenses. The bill would not provide any increases for HUD’s homeless assistance programs, a move that would force current programs to make cuts to existing programs in FY11.
One of the bill’s devastating blows would fall on the public housing capital fund, which would be cut by more than 40%.
The bill would cut the overall voucher account by more than $100 million. But because the bill would not fund new Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers, as the FY10 bill did, and because it would decrease funds for administrative fees and tenant protection vouchers, actual funding for voucher renewals would increase by almost $400 million. It appears that the voucher program has been spared the worst of H.R. 1’s impacts.
In a nod to the importance of renewing project-based rental assistance contracts, the bill would increase funding for project-based rental assistance contracts by $715 billion, an amount that may still fall short of projected funding necessary to renew expiring contracts for 12 month terms.
The bill would eliminate HOPE VI and Choice Neighborhood Initiative funding, eliminate funding for Native Hawaiian housing block grants, and make extreme cuts to the Section 202 housing for the elderly and Section 811 housing for persons with disabilities programs. The Section 202 and 811 programs would be cut by $551 million and $210 million, respectively, and none of their remaining FY11 funds could be spent for capital advances or related tenant-based rental assistance contracts.
The bill would cut $2.95 billion from the Community Development Fund’s $4.45 billion in FY10 spending, the vast majority of which went to community development block grants. The bill would specifically not allow any set-aside in this account for HUD’s Sustainable Communities Initiative, which was funded as a Community Development Fund set-aside at $150 million in FY11. The bill would also rescind $130 million from this account.
The bill would cut $175 million from the HOME program, and $20 million from funding for HUD’s healthy homes and lead hazard control. The bill would decrease Native American housing block grants by $200 million, to $500 million in FY11.
The bill would provide nothing for Brownfields or for HUD’s Energy Innovation Fund.
In addition to the Sustainable Communities Initiative rescission, the bill would rescind unobligated balances of $198 million from the HOPE VI program, $49.5 million from the Energy Innovation Fund, and $17.3 million from Brownfields programs.
Outside of HUD, the bill would cut the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development programs by almost $500 million; cut more than $196 million from Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions program, compared to an FY10 funding level of $247 million; cut $100 million from FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter grants, a 50% cut; cut $1 billion from HHS’s community health centers, a 46% cut; cut $405 million from Community Service Block Grants, a 46% cut; cut the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program by 66%; cut $747 million from WIC; and cut $1 billion from Head Start, among many other cuts.
The House is expected to begin consideration of the measure, H.R. 1, on February 15 and vote on it by February 17.
The current Continuing Resolution (CR), which has kept federal government spending flowing absent final FY11 appropriations bills, expires on March 4. Both the House and Senate are on Presidents’ Day Recess the week of February 18, leaving a week for the Senate to take action, or not, on the House’s FY11 bill. If the Senate rejects the House bill as is expected, there could be another short-term CR. The alternative is a government shutdown if agreements between the House and Senate cannot be reached.
Access the bill, H.R. 1, at http://rules.house.gov/
Access the Chair’s February 11 press release at http://appropriations.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=261&Month=2&Year=2011