After a two-week recess, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate were back in session last week to begin negotiations over the fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget and attempt to revitalize discussions about a reconciliation package after the House-passed “Build Back Better Act” stalled in the Senate at the end of last year (see Memo, 12/20/21).
Appropriations leaders in the House and Senate met on April 28 to begin negotiations over topline spending levels for both defense and non-defense discretionary programs in FY23. Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) noted he believes that he and his colleagues will reach an agreement on topline spending in the coming weeks. After reaching such an agreement, appropriators will be tasked with divvying up allocations among 12 spending packages and setting what are known as “302(b) allocations,” which determine total funding for each spending package.
NLIHC and our partners in the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) are leading our annual 302(b) letter to demand that Congress provide the highest level of funding possible for affordable housing, homelessness, and community development resources in FY23. Advocates should contact their members of Congress and urge them to support significant funding for NLIHC’s top priorities:
- $32.13 billion for the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) program to renew all existing contracts and expand housing vouchers to an additional 200,000 households.
- $5.125 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund to preserve public housing, and $5.06 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund.
- $3.6 billion for HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants program to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
- $100 million for legal assistance to prevent evictions.
- $300 million for the competitive tribal housing program, targeted to tribes with the greatest needs.
The appropriations process is vital to ensuring continued and expanded funding for HUD’s affordable housing programs. However, budget reconciliation – which allows the Senate to pass legislation with a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the 60 votes typically required in the chamber – represents the best opportunity to secure the bold, large-scale investments in affordable housing needed to address the severe lack of deeply affordable rental homes.
With Congress back in-session, President Biden and Congressional Democrats are working to revive negotiations and enact a significantly scaled-down reconciliation bill compared to the “Build Back Better Act,” which included more than $150 billion in affordable housing investments. However, there is continued concern that Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), the sole Democratic opponent to “Build Back Better” in the Senate, will not return to the negotiating table. Senator Manchin revealed last week that he met with a bipartisan group of senators to discuss the possibility of a bipartisan bill to address climate change. Some members of Congress fear trying to negotiate a bipartisan climate deal – which is very unlikely to advance this year - will distract from and further delay reconciliation discussions.
Senator Manchin maintains that any future reconciliation package should focus on increasing federal revenues by changing the tax code and using those revenues to fight inflation and draw down the federal deficit. The cost of housing is the single largest component of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a popular measure of inflation, and addressing the rising cost of housing is central to decreasing inflationary pressure on households, especially in the long term. It is vital that Congress include in any reconciliation package the significant funding for targeted affordable housing investments included in the “Build Back Better Act,” including the HoUSed campaign’s top priorities:
- $25 billion to expand housing vouchers to more than 300,000 households.
- $65 billion to preserve public housing for its 2 million residents.
- $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build, preserve, and operate more than 150,000 units of affordable, accessible homes for households with the lowest incomes.
Advocates should contact their senators and representatives to urge them to support the highest funding possible for affordable housing, homelessness, and community development programs in the FY23 spending bill and any budget reconciliation package. Use our call-in script to help create your own message to Congress!
Organizations can also take action for increased federal affordable housing investments:
- Sign your organization on to a letter supporting the highest level of funding possible for affordable housing, homelessness, and community development resources in FY23.
- Join over 1,800 organizations around the country in support of historic investments in rental assistance, public housing, and the Housing Trust Fund in any reconciliation bill that moves forward.