House Freedom Caucus Proposes Funding Caps and Work Requirements

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Freedom Caucus – a group of ultra-conservative Republicans in the House, led by Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) – released a broad outline of the concessions they are demanding of House leadership in order to secure the votes of Freedom Caucus members to raise the debt ceiling.

While scant on details, the outline calls for “[capping] future spending by setting topline discretionary spending at the [fiscal year] 2022 level for 10 years,” and “restoring Clinton-era work requirements on welfare programs,” despite the fact that programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps low-income families keep food on the table, already have work requirements in place. Capping fiscal year (FY) 2024 spending at FY2022 levels would result in at least $130 billion in cuts from non-defense discretionary programs, including HUD’s and USDA’s vital affordable housing and homelessness programs.

The outline’s release follows the publication of President Biden’s FY24 budget request (see Memo, 3/13), which calls for funding HUD programs at $73.3 billion, a 1.6% increase over FY2023-enacted funding, as well as billions of dollars in additional housing investments through mandatory funding. The House Freedom Caucus’ outline, while far from a consensus document among House Republicans, is an important marker for the appropriations proposals that may come out of the House. House Republicans are expected to release a more detailed budget proposal sometime in April.

Under the leadership of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Republicans are threatening to refuse to agree to raise the debt ceiling unless major funding concessions are made in FY2024. Economists warn that failing to raise the debt ceiling and allowing the U.S. to default on its debt obligations would be “catastrophic,” not only for the nation’s economy but the global economy as well.

“Let me be clear for the sake of the House Republican colleagues: threatening economic catastrophe to cut programs is not the political winner you think it is,” said U.S. Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) at a Senate Committee on the Budget hearing on March 15. According to an analysis from the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC), House Republicans’ proposal to cap FY2024 spending at FY2022 levels would result in a funding decrease of between 12% and 30%, depending on how cuts are made. These cuts could reduce funding for programs like HUD’s rental assistance and homelessness assistance programs by an estimated $6.6 billion, putting the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on this assistance at risk of housing instability, eviction, and homelessness.

Cuts to housing benefits – through the imposition of work requirements or time limits for receiving assistance – increase hardship among individuals and families with low incomes. Meeting basic, life-sustaining needs, like safe, stable housing, should not be contingent upon meeting arbitrary work requirements, and removing assistance from households already struggling does little to improve long-term employment and economic stability, according to a recent paper from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Take Action

It is unacceptable to balance the federal budget by demanding cuts to programs that help the lowest-income households survive. There is a national shortage of approximately 7 million affordable, available homes for people with the lowest incomes, and only one in four households who qualify for federal housing assistance receives the help it needs. Without adequate funding for vital federal affordable housing and homeless assistance programs, households with the lowest incomes will continue to live precariously, only one missed paycheck or unexpected emergency away from housing instability, eviction, and, in the worst cases, homelessness.

  • Sign your organization on to the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding’s (CHCDF) annual budget letter, calling on Congress to reject spending cuts and instead provide the highest possible allocation for HUD’s and USDA’s affordable housing, homelessness, and community development programs in FY24.
  • Email your members of Congress today and urge them to increase – not cut – resources for affordable housing and homelessness in FY24 and to support NLIHC’s top appropriations priorities:
    • $32.7 billion for the TBRA program to renew existing vouchers and to expand the program to an additional 200,000 households.
    • $5.4 billion for public housing operations and $5 billion for public housing repairs.
    • $3.8 billion for HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants program.
    • $100 million for legal assistance to prevent evictions.
    • $3 billion for a permanent Emergency Rental Assistance program.
    • $300 million for the competitive tribal housing grants, targeted to tribes with the greatest needs.
  • Check out NLIHC’s advocacy toolkit, “Oppose Dramatic Cuts to Federal Investments in Affordable Housing,” for talking points, sample social media messages, and more!