The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will mark up the Johnson-Crapo housing finance reform bill on Thursday, May 15. The original mark-up, set for April 29, was postponed in hopes of garnering support from undecided Senators, particularly Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) (see Memo, 5/2). However, negotiations stalled on May 8, and the bill is now expected to pass out of Committee by a bipartisan vote of 12-10 or 13-9, a weaker majority than was hoped for by advocates of the bill, including NLIHC.
The actual bill to be considered is an amendment to S. 1217, the previously introduced “Corker-Warner” bill. A manager’s amendment that incorporates the amendments to the Johnson-Crapo draft that was released on March 16 (see Memo, 3/14) is expected to be made public on May 12 or 13.
NLIHC and others have urged support for the bill, because of its extremely favorable treatment of the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF). If the measure is enacted as written, the NHTF is expected to receive $3.75 billion annually, the largest investment in affordable rental housing for extremely low income households in a generation. The six Democrats who will not vote for the overall bill have all voiced support for the NHTF provisions.
NLIHC agrees there are elements of the bill that should be improved and encouraged the Senators to keep working to reach consensus on areas of disagreement. The NHTF Campaign sent a letter signed by 34 national organizations and 199 state and local organizations to the six Senators urging them to “get to yes.” Advocates for the Capital Magnet Fund, which would be funded under the Johnson-Crapo bill as well, also sent them a letter on May 6 urging that they continue working to improve the bill until they could support it.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) also sent letters to all Members of the Banking Committee in support of the treatment of the NHTF in the Johnson-Crapo bill.
While the bill will pass out of Committee, its relatively weak support by the Committee means that it is unlikely to be taken by the full Senate this year. However, the bill will serve as the starting point in the next Congress, with an already agreed upon blueprint for the NHTF. In a message to the signers of the “get to yes” letter, NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley said, “We go into the next Congress in a much better position than we were in January 2013. A bipartisan marker has been laid that the NHTF should receive substantial funding in any bill that the Senate crafts in the future. This is a remarkable achievement.”
Read the NHTF Campaign’s letter to the Banking Committee at: http://bit.ly/1n5lXLv
Read Crowley’s message to the field at: http://nlihc.org/article/thank-you-and-update
Read the USCCB letter at: http://bit.ly/1mO92OX
Read the NAACP letter at: http://bit.ly/1sE9xtX
Read the Capital Magnet Fund letter at: http://bit.ly/1sE96Qs