The House and Senate Committees on Appropriations wrapped up their work on the FY14 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Subcommittee bills on June 27. The House bill would fund HUD programs at much lower levels than the Senate bills. The 302(b) allocation to the House THUD Subcommittee was nearly $10 billion lower than the Senate THUD Subcommittee allocation.
The House THUD Subcommittee allocation, and its THUD FY14 bill, is based on a top-line House budget number of $967 billion for discretionary spending for FY14. The Senate’s top line number, which assumes repeal of the sequester’s mandatory discretionary cuts while maintaining the Budget Control Act’s spending limits, provides $1.058 trillion for discretionary funding for FY14.
The House Committee on Appropriations marked up and passed its FY14 THUD bill on June 27, continuing the low levels of funding passed by the Subcommittee (see Memo, 6/21). Committee members offered numerous amendments to increase HUD programs, with only one amendment passing.
The successful amendment, offered by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), increased Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) funds by $3 million, by taking funds from the HUD Administrative Support Office. This was after a bid to increase HOPWA by $35 million without an offset failed on a voice vote. Other amendments offered by Democrats to increase funding for Vouchers, Project-based Rental Assistance, Homeless Assistance, and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) also failed.
Ms. Lee also offered an amendment that would add language to the bill “expressing a “sense of Congress” that legislation should not be passed that “increases poverty in the U.S.” The amendment was accepted by THUD Subcommittee Chair Tom Latham (D-IA).
Representative Jose Serrano (D-NY) offered an amendment to replace the sequester, citing significant cuts to housing programs serving the lowest income households as one reason. Mr. Serrano said that the bill would “hurt low income families,” by eliminating 140,000 tenant-based vouchers and raising rents sharply for these families. “For forty years, we have not done that,” said Mr. Serrano. He cited the cuts to public housing as another major impact for these low income families. “The Committee could have done better,” concluded Mr. Serrano. The amendment was not agreed to by a vote of 21 to 27.
Chair Latham announced that a manager’s amendment to the bill passed by the Subcommittee struck a number of policy provisions on changing the definition of extremely low income, changing the medical deduction threshold, authorizing project-based vouchers for expiring Rent Supplement properties, and changing Rental Assistance Demonstration requirements. He urged House authorizers to pass a Section 8 voucher reform bill to address these policy issues.
In discussing the overall bill, Representative Latham said that “cutting over $7 billion in programs was certainly very challenging” and that the Subcommittee made “significant cuts while supporting core housing programs.” He asserted the bill would provide funding for “all section 8 vouchers expected to be in use at the beginning of FY14,” as well funding for Homeless Assistance renewals, and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers for 10,000 veterans.
THUD Subcommittee Ranking Member Ed Pastor (D-AZ) said that the Subcommittee has “wasted [its] opportunity because of political decisions” and criticized the House’s decision to set discretionary spending at “a level $90 billion below the statutory level,” a decision that led to a low FY14 302(b) THUD Subcommittee allocation. “The true tragedy of this bill is not what is in it or not in it but that we have squandered the opportunity” to create a responsible bill, said Mr. Pastor.
Referring to the THUD Subcommittee’s low 302(b) allocation, Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY), commended the Members for making “something from almost nothing” in the FY14 bill. “The bill is a good bill… it provides housing for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable citizens, all while dealing with the fiscal constraints of sequestration,” said Chair Rogers, and further that the Subcommittee made “difficult but necessary reductions to a variety of lesser priority programs.”
Comparing the FY14 bill to the FY13 bill, Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) said “What a difference a year makes. Last year, Chairman Latham put forth a responsible bill that took care of the housing needs of our citizens…. What has changed in a year? Has homelessness disappeared?”
The House Committee on Appropriations voted to pass its FY14 THUD bill 28 to 20 along party lines.
On the Senate side, work on THUD Appropriations provided comparatively positive news for HUD programs. In the Subcommittee markup on June 25, Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) said that the Subcommittee is putting forth a responsible bill that “helps protect the most vulnerable among us” acknowledging that the Subcommittee’s allocation was “significantly lower than just a few years ago.” Chair Murray said that the bill, S. 1243, “funds rental and homeless assistance for millions of households.” Subcommittee Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME) said that the bill “preserves housing assistance for low income families, the elderly and the disabled.” She expressed her hope that the Senate will consider the bill on the floor. No amendments were made at the Subcommittee mark up.
The Senate Committee on Appropriations passed the THUD Subcommittee bill on June 27. Chair Murray offered the only amendment at the mark up, a manager’s amendment package to the bill, which was adopted by full Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). NLIHC will provide details on the manager’s amendment package to the Senate THUD bill as they become available.
The THUD bill passed by a vote of 22 to 8, with five Republicans joining all Democrats in support of the bill. In addition to Senator Collins, the other Republicans who supported the bill were Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS), John Hoeven (R-ND), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
Senator Murray noted that the bill includes Section 8 reforms to decrease costs and increase efficiencies, maintains funding for the Housing Investment Partnership program (HOME), CDBG, Section 202 supportive housing for the elderly, and Section 811 housing for people with disabilities programs while the House’s THUD bill cuts these programs. Chair Murray also said that the bill would increase accountability for the public housing and project-based Section 8 programs.
Senator Collins said that while it is important to hold overall spending to current law, it is also important to review each bill on its own merit. She asked, “Are we to be just a rubber stamp for the House? Or, are we to look at bills on their own merits and then negotiate with the House?”
The Senate bill would provide substantially higher funding for HUD programs in FY14 than would the House. However, the bill still falls short of the President’s budget request for many HUD programs. Funding levels include:
- Vouchers (Tenant Based Rental Assistance) would be funded at $19.6 million including $17.6 for contract renewals. This is $300 million less than the President’s budget request, but nearly $1 billion more than the House Committee bill. Contract renewals would be funded at $300 million less than the President’s request, but $600 million higher than the House bill. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that 140,000 vouchers would be lost due to sequestration. If Congress does not deliberately fund voucher contract renewals based on the number of vouchers in use prior to sequestration, these vouchers would be lost permanently. The Senate bill would not provide the full amount of funding that is necessary to maintain all vouchers in use prior to sequestration according to the Administration, but the bill would preserve a large number of vouchers that would otherwise be lost by sequestration.
- $75 million in funding for 10,000 new Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers, consistent with the Administration’s request, the House bill, and FY13 funding.
- Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) would be funded at $10.8 billion, $500 million above the President’s request and $1.4 billion above the House request. HUD has said that the program would need up to $11.4 billion in FY14 in order to fund all contracts for a full year.
- Public Housing would be funded at $2 billion for the Capital Fund and $4.6 billion for the Operating Fund. The Senate would meet the President’s request for the Capital Fund, increasing the account by more than $200 above the FY13 post-sequestration funding level, and providing $500 million more than the House bill. The Senate bill would also meet the President’s request for the Operating Fund, but still falls short of the amount needed for operating expenses in FY14. The Senate bill would provide more than $300 million more in operating funding that would the House bill.
- Increased funding for the Homeless Assistance Grants, providing $2.26 billion in FY14, exceed the House increase by nearly $200 million, but falling short of the President’s request by more than $100 million.
- Increased funding for the Native American Housing Block Grants to $675 million. This amount is $25 million higher than FY13 pre-sequestration funding and the President’s request, and $75 million higher than the House bill.
- HOME would be funded at $1 billion, $50 million higher than the President’s request, $300 million higher than the House, and level with the FY13 pre-sequestration funding level.
- CDBG would be funded at $3.15 billion, a level close to what was provided in FY11. The Senate’s bill would increase funding by $350 over the President’s request and $1.5 billion over the House bill.
- Housing Counseling would be funded at $55 million, which is level with the President’s request, $10 million higher than the FY13 pre-sequestration funding, and $20 million higher than the House bill.
- Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) would be funded at $250 million, which is more than double the amount provided in FY13 pre-sequestration and $150 less than the President’s request.
The next step for the House and Senate bills is floor consideration by the chambers. However, when and if the bills go to the floor depends in large part on the outcome of other appropriations bills. In the House, with little bipartisan agreement on recent major legislation, it is not yet clear if leadership will try to consider the THUD bill separately. Senate leadership expects to move the THUD bill to the floor in July or in September. Ultimately, however, neither the House nor the Senate are expected to pass all of their 12 appropriations bills by the start of the fiscal year and (October 1, 2013) and instead are expected to pass a Continuing Resolution while negotiating top line and bill level spending amounts for FY14.
View Chair Mikulski’s statement and the press release on the Senate mark up: http://1.usa.gov/122WDG5
View the House Committee bill and report: http://1.usa.gov/1apWJRc
View NLIHC’s June 19 press statement on the House THUD Subcommittee bill: http://nlihc.org/press/releases/2638
View NLIHC’s budget chart: http://bit.ly/1al9ivw