In a letter sent to all Senate and House Members on September 10, more than 2,500 organizations called on Congress to raise the sequester spending caps. At a rally and press conference announcing the delivery of the letter on Capitol Hill, House Committee on the Budget Ranking Member Christopher Van Hollen (D-MD) called on his Republican colleagues to negotiate a way to raise the spending caps, avoid a government shutdown, and provide adequate funding for federal programs.
The letter was coordinated by NDD United, a broad network of organizations representing non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. More than 600 organizations that signed onto the letter were from the housing, homeless, and community development sector, demonstrating the depth of concern for FY16 HUD funding if sequester caps remain in place.
“With sequestration relief expiring in fiscal year 2016 and appropriations bills now being written to the sequestered spending caps, we are seeing the difficult tradeoffs necessitated by woefully inadequate and historically low levels of spending after years of deficit reduction. In fact, current NDD funding is the lowest level on record dating back to the Eisenhower administration, relative to the size of the economy,” the letter states.
“NDD United understands the real impact of the sequester,” said Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) who also spoke at the rally. Ms. Lee called for a “responsible budget” to prevent a government shutdown and to end the sequester caps. Since no FY16 appropriations bills have yet been enacted, Congress needs to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep federal programs funded after September 30. Without a CR, a government shutdown will occur.
One impact of the looming FY16 sequester caps, Ms. Lee said, is evident in the House’s THUD funding bill for FY16. This bill, Ms. Lee said, includes a “classic robbing Peter to pay Paul” provision that raids all of the funds set to go into the National Housing Trust Fund in 2016 and diverting them into the HOME program, which is also cut by the bill. “Both programs are needed,” said Ms. Lee.
Steve Glaude, Executive Director of the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development in Washington, DC, an NLIHC state coalition partner, also spoke at the rally. “Given the loss of critical funding DC suffered after the 2013 sequester cuts, my organization was quick to sign onto the letter being delivered today to Capitol Hill urging Congress to avoid painful and unnecessary cuts in the upcoming fiscal year,” Mr. Glaude said.
“Today, we ask Congress to Raise the Caps,” Mr. Glaude said. “Raise the caps so the House’s housing appropriations bill, which is written under the spending caps’ limits, does not force 280 of DC’s lowest income families to leave the Section 8 rental assistance voucher program. Raise the caps so the Senate committee’s housing appropriations bill, which also follows the caps’ limits, does not reduce DC’s HOME program funding from $3.7 million to $240,000 next year. Raise the caps so the House’s housing funding bill, which would empty funds from the National Housing Trust Fund, is not enacted into law.”
In a press release regarding the letter’s delivery to Members of Congress, NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley said that NLIHC is proud to sign onto the letter. “Sequestration will continue to wreak havoc on programs that provide affordable housing for low income households in America,” Ms. Crowley stated.
Read NLIHC’s press release, http://nlihc.org/press/releases/6157
Read NDD United’s sign on letter, http://bit.ly/1O2yDjm