Congress passes stopgap measure to keep government open through December 9
With only two days to spare before the deadline, Congress avoided a government shutdown by passing a short-term continuing resolution (CR), set at Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 spending levels, on September 28. The CR will keep the federal government funded through December 9, and the measure now heads to the White House for President Obama’s signature.
The CR passed in the Senate by a vote of 72 to 26 and in the House by a vote of 342 to 85. Lawmakers were able to reach a deal after weeks of negotiations. One of the biggest stumbling blocks was disagreement over whether and how to provide aid to Flint, Michigan to address the city’s lead-tainted water system. In the end, Congress agreed to authorize aid for Flint as part of separate legislation for water infrastructure projects.
The CR includes:
- A Small Across-the-Board Cut. To fit under spending caps required by the Budget Control Act, the CR includes a half percent across-the-board cut to funding levels with a number of exceptions.
- Funding for Flood Victims in Louisiana and Other States. The measure includes $500 million in emergency funding to help flood victims in Louisiana and other states. The White House had requested $2.6 billion in Disaster Recovery Community Development Block Grant funds and urges Congress to provide more aid to help flood victims when Congress returns after the November elections. HUD reports that over 1,300 of their tenants have been displaced by the flooding, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency has registered more than 144,000 people seeking disaster assistance. More than 145,000 homes are located in flood areas.
- A provision for USDA Rental Assistance. The CR includes a provision allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to pay ongoing debt service for rental assistance contracts under the Section 514 and Section 516 multi-family direct loan programs.
The White House and Congress now have until December 9 to either negotiate another CR or enact full FY17 appropriations bills. NLIHC strongly urges Congress to enact full-year FY17 spending bills for HUD and USDA as soon as possible.
A long-term CR that extends into 2017 could cause thousands of families to lose access to stable housing. This is because HUD needs approximately $1 billion more than FY16 spending levels and USDA needs $18 million more to maintain current program levels and renew existing housing assistance contracts. A long-term CR at FY16 levels would result in deep cuts to critical housing programs that could cause thousands of families and children to lose access to stable housing, putting them at increased risk of homelessness.
A long-term CR also puts vital investments in affordable housing at risk. Both the House and Senate proposed FY17 spending bills would increase resources for affordable housing programs—$200 million and $500 million, respectively—to help provide affordable, stable housing for more seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and people experiencing homelessness. Both bills propose increases for Housing Choice Vouchers, Project-Based Rental Assistance, Section 202 Housing for the Elderly, Homeless Assistance Grants, and Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction. In addition, the House and Senate bills provide level funding or modest increases for the Public Housing Operating Fund, Public Housing Capital Fund, Family Self Sufficiency Program, HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program. For more details, see NLIHC’s updated budget chart.