Lawmakers will not return to Capitol Hill until after Labor Day, but already discussions are underway about how to keep the federal government funded after September 30, when the new fiscal year begins, and avoid a government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) agree that a short-term spending measure – known as a continuing resolution (CR) – will be necessary to keep the federal government funded and give members of Congress more time to reach a final agreement on fiscal year (FY) 2024 spending bills.
CRs maintain the previously appropriated year’s level of funding for federal programs for a specified period of time. Because the cost of housing and development rises every year, it is crucial that HUD’s affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs receive increased annual appropriations just to maintain the current number of people and communities served. Leaders are reportedly discussing a CR that would extend government funding to December 8, although there is no final agreement on how long the CR would last. Once the CR expires, Congress would need either to pass all 12 fiscal year 2024 spending bills, enact another short-term CR to continue negotiations, or risk a government shutdown.
Along with the CR, Congress will likely aim to pass a supplemental spending measure to provide additional funding for FEMA’s disaster relief programs, which are slated to run out of money by the end of August, and additional assistance for the war in Ukraine. Republican lawmakers in states hit by disasters – including Speaker McCarthy – requested additional assistance from the White House to help with recovery efforts in their communities.
However, even as House Republicans request additional aid, it is not clear whether a clean CR and supplemental spending measure will easily pass the House. Members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus (HFC) are inviting a shutdown and vowing to oppose a CR unless it includes draconian cuts to spending and other harmful provisions that would not pass the Senate. HFC members owe their outsized influence to a deal struck with Speaker McCarthy to secure the votes needed to win his leadership role. Under the terms of the deal, HFC members agreed to vote for Speaker McCarthy in exchange for several procedural concessions, including allowing a single member of the House to force a vote to recall him from his position at any time.
HFC members are still strategizing on how to exact even steeper funding cuts from the FY24 budget, after pressuring Republican leaders in the House to write FY24 spending bills to roughly FY22 levels – which would result in cuts to domestic spending of almost $131 billion. Thanks to the determined, relentless work of housing advocates around the country, at a time when domestic programs were facing prospective cuts of up to 30%, the House’s draft FY24 appropriations bill provided a 10% increase to HUD funding. While still insufficient to cover the level of need, this increase is a testament to the power of our collective action.
Together, we can achieve historic protections and resources for renters with the lowest incomes, and together we can continue to fight the ongoing threat of cuts to HUD’s vital affordable housing and homelessness resources. Advocates should use NLIHC’s Legislative Action Center to call or email their members of Congress and urge them to expand – not cut – funding for HUD’s vital affordable housing and homelessness programs in the FY24 budget.
NLIHC also released an updated Congressional Recess Toolkit that provides advocates with ideas, advice, and tips on how to set up in-district meetings with their members of Congress, along with talking points, sample op-eds, sample social media messages, and more. Advocacy over August recess will be crucial in setting the stage for resumed negotiations on the federal budget when Congress returns in September and for warding off ongoing threats to HUD’s vital programs.
Members adjourned for recess on July 27 after months of contentious budget negotiations that culminated in vastly different spending proposals from the House and Senate. The discrepancies between the House and Senate appropriations bills set the stage for what will likely be a tumultuous September on Capitol Hill. Congress only has until September 30 – the start of the new federal fiscal year – to enact all 12 appropriations bills or pass a continuing resolution (CR) in order to keep the federal government funded and avoid a shutdown. Given how far apart the House and Senate are on their FY24 spending bills, and the fact that far-right members of the House are already refusing to vote for a clean CR that does not cut federal spending, members are raising alarms about a likely government shutdown on October 1.
While advocates across the country have done tremendous work to ensure that neither the House nor Senate FY24 spending bills drastically cut funding for vital HUD programs, including rental assistance and Homeless Assistance Grants, the road to enacting a final FY24 spending bill with sufficient HUD funding is steep. With members of Congress back in their home states and districts, August recess is the perfect time for advocates to set up in-district meetings with their members to stress the impact and importance of increased HUD funding in any final appropriations bill.
Thanks to the hard work of advocates across the country who mobilized to weigh in with their elected officials, HUD’s vital rental assistance, homelessness assistance, and tribal housing program were spared from cuts in both the House and Senate bills. We still have work to do to ensure these funding levels remain in a final bill, and that other critical programs, such as Public Housing, are also fully funded.
Keep making your voice heard, and tell Congress that it cannot balance the federal budget at the expense of people with the lowest incomes! Advocates can take action TODAY in the following ways:
- Contact your senators and representatives to urge them to expand – not cut – investments in affordable, accessible homes through the FY24 spending bill!
- August recess is the perfect time for advocates to schedule in-district meetings with their members of Congress to urge them to support higher funding for affordable housing and homelessness programs. Check out NLIHC’s updated Congressional Recess Toolkit for information on how to set up in-district meetings, meeting tips, talking points, and more!
- Join over 2,000 organizations by signing on to a national letter from the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF), calling on Congress to oppose budget cuts and instead to support the highest level of funding possible for affordable housing, homelessness, and community development resources in FY24.
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