The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs met briefly on April 29 to announce the postponement of the markup of the Johnson-Crapo amendment to H.R. 1217, the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2013. The mark-up could happen as soon as the week of May 5, but certainly will take place before the Memorial Day recess.
While there are enough votes to report the bill out of committee now, the Committee’s leaders are hopeful that with more time for negotiations, additional Senators will be able to support the bill. The focus is on six Senators: Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Each of the six Senators has specific concerns that they want addressed, but most of the concerns center on strengthening the bill’s provisions to promote access to credit for low income and households of color. The challenge is to reach the compromises needed to satisfy some or all of these Senators, while not losing any of the six Republican and six Democratic Senators who support the current bill.
The six Senators with whom the committee leaders are still negotiating all support the NHTF provisions in the bill. The bill would assess a 10 basis point fee on securities covered by the new housing finance system that the bill creates to replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This fee is estimated to raise $5 billion a year when fully phased in. Three-quarters, $3.75 billion a year, would go to the NHTF.
At the April 29 Committee meeting, Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) said “because this legislation has the support of a bipartisan majority on this Committee, we know that we will soon complete the Committee’s process on this bill. I am confident that if we held the vote this morning, we would have more than the minimum number of votes needed to pass it on to the Floor. Nevertheless, while I do not relish the idea of a short delay, I am pleased that a number of Senators believe with just a brief period of additional time to consider it, they will have the opportunity to productively join us in efforts to reform the current system. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the coming days, to listening to their questions or concerns to help us find a bipartisan consensus with even stronger votes.”
NLIHC is circulating a sign-on letter to the six Senators that urges them to work towards a “yes” vote on the Johnson-Crapo bill. The letter says: “We believe it is possible to find common ground…and preserve the bipartisan agreement that Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Crapo have achieved. In doing so, you would make possible the desperately needed investment in rental housing for extremely low income seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, low wage workers, and families with children who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. For their sake, we strongly urge you to continue to negotiate until, together, you craft a bill that you will support. Millions of people are counting on you to keep working until you get to ‘yes.’”
The letter, signed by national organizations and organizations from MA, NJ, NY, OH, OR, and RI, will be delivered on Monday, May 5.
NLIHC has also updated its NHTF allocation chart to show how much each state would receive under the Johnson-Crapo formulation. The draft bill would make two changes to the formula for distribution of NHTF dollars that was created in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA). Johnson-Crapo increases the small state minimum and establishes a 2% set-aside for tribal housing.