On March 9, the Senate voted on H.R. 1, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act for 2011, and the Senate’s substitute amendment to the bill. Neither bill passed. The two Senate votes were scheduled after the first session of negotiations between the House and Senate facilitated by Vice President Joseph Biden on March 3 (see Memo, 3/4). It is now clear that the Senate must first come to agreement amongst its own members on funding levels for FY11 prior to brokering agreement with the House. In anticipation of the House and Senate not being able to reach agreement on FY11 bills before the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution (CR) on March 18, the House released a sixth CR in draft form on March 11.
The federal government has operated under a series of CRs since the fiscal year began on October 1, 2010. Unable to agree on FY11 spending levels, the House and Senate continue to punt on establishing a budget and instead have passed five CRs that continue federal funding at FY10 levels. The House is expected to vote on a sixth CR on March 15. This latest CR would provide funding for three additional weeks through April 8 and cut spending by $6 billion. The fifth CR cut $4 billion from the federal budget (see Memo, 3/4).The only HUD program included in this latest CR is the Brownfields Redevelopment program, which would receive no funding. The program was funded at $18 billion in FY10. Cuts to other programs that appear in this CR were included in the House’s FY11 funding bill, H.R. 1.
The House passed H.R. 1, which would cut $100 billion from the President’s FY11 budget proposal, on February 19 (see Memo, 2/18).
The Senate rejected H.R. 1 by a vote of 44 to 56 with all Democratic and three Republican Senators voting against it. Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Michael Lee (R-UT) voted against the House bill. Many Democratic Senators spoke against H.R. 1 on the floor prior to the vote, describing the negative impact the bill would have on housing opportunities for people who are homeless, have disabilities or are veterans. Senators also discussed the risk of driving the country deeper into recession by evicting households from subsidized housing and eliminating jobs generated by HUD programs.
On the same day that the Senate rejected the House’s FY11 funding proposal, the chamber also voted down its own FY11 funding proposal, 42 to 58. Ten Democratic Senators and one Independent voted against the substitute amendment. The Senate proposal would have cut $51 billion from the President’s FY11 budget proposal and $4.7 billion from the appropriation subcommittee with jurisdiction over Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (T-HUD) budget authority. The Senate bill would have funded Tenant Based Rental Assistance at $18.5 billion and project-based rental assistance at $9.3 billion. The public housing capital fund would have been funded at $2.5 billion and the operating fund would have been funded at $4.6 billion. Under the Senate bill, Homeless Assistance Grants would have received a boost of $190 million over FY10 and the House bill. The Community Development Block Grant, the HOME Investment Partnership, and the Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities and Section 202 Housing for the Elderly programs would all have continued at FY10 funding levels.
NLIHC signed onto a letter sent by the Preservation Working Group (PWG) urging Senate Appropriators to fully fund rental assistance programs in FY11. Letter writers advocate that Congress’ FY11 funding levels “maintain the commitment to America’s most vulnerable households and to the public-private partnership upon which the project-based Section 8 program has endured for nearly 40 years.”
View NLIHC’s budget charts at: http://www.nlihc.org/template/page.cfm?id=28
View PWG’s letter at: http://www.nlihc.org/doc/PWG_Supports_PBRA.pdf