Both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate Committees on Appropriations met to review and vote on their respective proposals for the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) FY24 spending bill. Stark differences in the bills foreshadow what will likely be a difficult appropriations process when Congress returns from recess in September.
The full House Appropriations Committee met on July 18 to review and vote on the House’s proposed THUD spending bill, which would provide HUD with $68.2 billion – a $6.4 billion (or approximately 10%) increase from FY23-enacted levels. HUD needs to increase funds by an estimated $13 billion over the previous year’s funding to maintain existing levels of assistance. House Appropriators, bending to the demands of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, agreed to mark up their domestic spending bills to FY22 levels, resulting in a proposed $131 billion cut from FY23 levels. While the bill does propose deep cuts to or even the elimination of some HUD programs, it does not – as NLIHC and our partners urged – cut funding for most rental assistance programs. For more details on the House proposal, see NLIHC’s full analysis.
Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) and THUD Subcommittee Chair Tom Cole (R-OK) provided opening remarks praising the bill for fully funding renewals for housing assistance and for making historic investments in housing programs that serve Native communities.
“The housing programs in this bill provide support for working families, the elderly, the disabled, and veterans,” said Chair Granger. Chair Cole elaborated, noting the bill ensures “a responsible safety net with housing support for our most vulnerable citizens.” Chair Cole also expressed pride that the bill “[restores] the Indian Housing Block Grant program to $1.1 billion, catching up to an inflation-adjusted 1998 level.”
House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro, however, expressed her dissatisfaction with the bill, stating it relies on “recessions and budget gimmicks” to fill in funding gaps, including “pulling back over half a billion dollars for health hazards remediations in low-income housing, and weaking the enforcement of the Internal Revenue Service to benefit the wealthiest Americans.” To increase funding for certain vital HUD programs while still drafting bills to FY22 funding levels, House Republicans propose rescinding over $564 million in unobligated balances from the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes and $25 billion in IRS funding provided in the “Inflation Reduction Act.”
Committee review of a bill – known as “Committee markup” – provides members the opportunity to propose and vote on amendments to the bill under review. Members proposed a number of amendments that were adopted or rejected along party line votes. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) offered an amendment that would have revoked the bill’s prohibition on using funds to advance HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which establishes parameters for how communities can actively work to undo historic patterns of discrimination. The amendment, however, was not adopted after a party line vote of 27-34.
THUD Chair Cole offered a controversial amendment that would strip three community development projects of funding because they serve members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community. Committee Democrats banded together in outcry at the amendment, with Ranking Member DeLauro accusing Republican appropriators of “negotiating with terrorists” for bending to the will of the party’s far-right wing. The Ranking Member also pointed out that, historically, neither Republicans nor Democrats have attempted to strip funding from community development projects on ideological grounds.
“This is below the dignity of this committee,” said Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI), an openly gay man, during the amendment debate. “There is absolutely no excuse; the fact is that, for too many people, unless they’re personally affected, they don’t give a damn.” Representative Pocan went on to tell his colleagues about the harassment and violence he has faced as a gay man, including receiving death threats when he ran for Congress and being followed and violently beaten after leaving a gay bar.
“This is what you guys do by introducing amendments like this, taking away from peoples’ earmarks, taking away from your colleagues, who want to protect people on housing,” continued the representative. “This is below where we all are. We have to have more respect and dignity for our constituents.” Despite the outcry, the amendment was adopted along a party-line vote, 32-26.
In the Senate, the full Appropriations Committee met on July 20 to mark up and vote on its proposed FY24 THUD bill, the text of which was released the same day. Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-CA) and Vice-Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) are writing their bills to the funding levels agreed upon in the “Fiscal Responsibility Act,” which places funding caps on FY24 and FY25 spending in exchange for raising the debt ceiling until 2025.
Overall, the bill provides just over $70 billion for HUD’s vital affordable housing, homelessness, and community development programs, an $8.26 billion (or roughly 13%) increase from FY23-enacted levels. The proposal would include enough funding to renew all existing TBRA and PBRA contacts and provide slight increases to the Homeless Assistance Grants program, Native American Housing Block Grants, and other vital programs. Other programs would receive level funding, and few would face cuts under the Senate’s proposal. For more details, see NLIHC’s full analysis of the Senate bill and our updated budget chart.
The Senate Committee’s leaders have also reached an agreement to provide an additional $13.7 billion in emergency supplemental funding, including $8 billion for defense and $5.7 billion for non-defense domestic spending. “This additional funding is important for us to be able to continue to work together on a bipartisan basis to address the urgent challenges our country faces,” said Chair Murray in her opening remarks. “And because – as the bills we are discussing today show – we aren’t just talking about numbers on a page. We are talking about our country’s competitiveness and leadership on the world stage, the safety and wellbeing of our families and communities, and the future for our children.”
“Despite a challenging budget year, the bill maintains existing rental assistance for more than 4.6 million households and continues to make meaningful investments aimed at tackling homelessness,” said Vice Chair Collins in her opening remarks. The Vice Chair – who previously led the THUD Appropriations Subcommittee – also voiced her commitment to “continue to advocate for [HUD] funding as the appropriations process moves forward.”
The full Senate Appropriations Committee reviewed and passed the THUD spending bill with bipartisan support and without adding on discriminatory or problematic amendments in a 29-0 vote.
With the House and Senate bills released, appropriators will need to turn their attention to reaching a compromise funding bill with the bipartisan support that will be required for the bills to pass both chambers.
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 programs were spared from cuts in both the House and Senate bills. Yet advocates 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.