Congress continued its budget work during the week of March 10 as the House Financial Services Committee issued its “Views and Estimates,” the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) released its FY15 progressive budget.
The House Financial Services Committee marked up its FY15 “Budget Views and Estimates” on March 13. It is authored by the Republican majority and calls HUD an overly bureaucratic agency that has not achieved the Committee’s goals addressing “long-term systemic poverty.” The “Views and Estimates” goes on to say that, “the President’s budget does nothing to address the proliferation of federal housing programs and initiatives that, over time, have failed to achieve meaningful results in changing lives or transforming troubled communities.”
At the mark-up, Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) said that the “Views and Estimates” do nothing to “ensure opportunity for every American.” She also said that the document does not reflect that some Members, “support affordable housing and initiatives to end poverty. This means full funding for Department of Housing and Urban Development programs that provide public housing, work to end homelessness and preserve access to affordable rental housing targeted to low-income families.”
On March 12, the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing, “The President’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget and Revenue Proposals,” with Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew as the sole witness. Secretary Lew said that the “President’s Budget invests in the United States economy to promote economic growth in the short-term and to strengthen the foundations for sustained prosperity in the long-term.” He cited “sustained economic recovery” since the President took office and said that “the policies put in place have resulted in a sharp decline in the deficit, putting us on a sustainable fiscal path.”
The Secretary highlighted the President’s $56 billion “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative,” released as part of the FY15 budget request. He said that the additional request supports the Administration’s Promise Zone initiative to “increase access to affordable housing.” He also said that the budget request would reduce homelessness among veterans.
The House Budget Committee cancelled a hearing with the same title also scheduled for March 12.
Finally, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) released its FY15 budget, the “Better Off Budget,” on March 12 and cited the National Housing Trust Fund as a key program to remedy the affordable housing shortage in the nation (see article elsewhere in Memo). The budget also calls for strong funding for Homeless Assistance Grants, Tenant-Based and Project-Based Section 8, Public Housing Operating and Capital Funds, and the HOME Investment Partnerships program, among other housing programs.
“We have an affordable housing crisis: Only one in four families eligible for housing assistance receives any… The budget preserves existing affordable housing by rebuilding public housing and restores and expands vouchers to house some of the millions of families who have been on waiting lists for years,” wrote the Caucus members.