House Narrowly Passes THUD Bill with Anti-Fair Housing Provisions

On June 9, The House passed its FY16 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations bill, H.R. 2577. The bill passed by a six vote margin of 216 to 210. Thirty-one Republicans joined all but three Democrats to oppose the bill.

The bill would provide insufficient funding to renew 28,000 housing choice vouchers, underfund the renewal of project-based rental assistance, and cut the HOME and public housing capital programs, among others (see Memo, 5/18 and 6/8). The bill would also divert all funds set to go into the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) in 2016 to the HOME program, and prohibit the NHTF from receiving any other sources of revenue, as described in the NHTF article above.

The cuts to housing programs made by H.R. 2577 are due to the sequester spending caps established by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Until these caps are lifted, it is impossible for nondefense discretionary programs, such as the housing and community development programs at HUD and USDA, to receive the appropriations they need to maintain existing assistance and preserve existing housing. The House and Senate, through their joint budget resolution, continue the sequester caps for FY16. Most observers think there will be some reprieve from the caps, but until then, appropriators continue to produce FY16 bills that underfund programs.

In a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on H.R. 2577, the Office of Management and Budget said President Barack Obama would veto the bill. “The President's senior advisors would recommend that he veto H.R. 2577 and any other legislation that implements the current Republican budget framework, which blocks the investments needed for our economy to compete in the future,” the SAP says. The 216 to 210 vote means Republicans would not have the votes necessary to override a veto.

House THUD Subcommittee Ranking Member David Price (D-NC) blasted the bill on June 9 on the House floor at the continuation of consideration of the bill from June 4 (see Memo, 6/8). “This bill clearly illustrates the folly of dogmatically cutting domestic appropriations as the sole focus of deficit reduction, while leaving the main drivers of the deficit unaddressed. Under sequestration funding levels, any advancement of appropriations bills is simply delaying the day of reckoning. Let’s stop this charade now, and begin serious, broad budget negotiations,” Mr. Price said.

THUD Subcommittee Chair Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) released a statement saying, “I am very pleased with the passage of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill for FY16. This bill prioritizes our nation's infrastructure and housing needs, while adhering to the imposed sequestration cuts.”

The House voted 229 to 193 to adopt an amendment by Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) to prohibit HUD from implementing, enforcing, or administering the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing proposed rule or its related Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Assessment Tool.

The House also voted 231 to 195 to adopt an amendment by Representative Scott Garrett (R-NJ) to prohibit HUD from implementing or enforcing the disparate impact standard of the Fair Housing Act. On June 9, NLIHC joined 57 other organizations led by the National Fair Housing Alliance in a letter to House members opposing this amendment. “The Garrett amendment would undermine our ability to ensure that all families are treated fairly in their search for a place to live,” the letter says.

On June 4, organizations representing the landlord, banking, and management side of affordable housing, sent a letter to the House supporting Mr. Garrett’s anti-disparate impact amendment. According to the letter, “Under this rule, even when a mortgage lender, apartment owner, apartment manager or housing cooperative takes every step to prevent discrimination and treats all consumers fairly and equally, a neutral policy can serve as a basis for very serious and harmful claims in the absence of intentional discrimination.”

Two amendments passed that would bar undocumented noncitizens from receiving HUD housing assistance, something already prohibited. Ranking Member Price called the amendments from Representatives Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Mo Brooks (R-AL) efforts “to denigrate immigrants in this country” and “score political points.” Mr. Price said that the amendments, “in no way alter existing law and regulation and only stir controversy and reinforce prejudice.” Chair Diaz-Balart agreed that the amendment from Mr. Brooks was unnecessary. “I don’t see a reason to have the amendment. Likewise, I don’t see a big reason to oppose the amendment. It just restates current law. I think I should ask all sides to try and lower the rhetoric on this issue…. I don’t see what the issue is of objecting to an amendment that does absolutely nothing.”

Representative Glenn Grothman (R-WI) offered two amendments, each voted down by voice vote. The first would have cut project-based rental assistance (PBRA) renewals by $300 million and prohibited the use of PBRA after October 1, 2015, for any household not defined by HUD as an elderly or disabled family. The second amendment would have put the same policy restrictions on the housing voucher program. On the floor, Mr. Grothman said the structure of both the PBRA and voucher programs discourages work and marriage and that his amendments would “restore the moral fiber that made America great.” Mr. Price spoke vehemently against the amendments, saying in part that they would result in increased need for housing assistance.

An amendment offered by Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to cut every program in H.R. 2577 by 1% also failed by voice vote.

The Senate has yet to take action on its FY16 THUD bill.

The Statement of Administration Policy is at

Ranking Member Price’s statement is at

Chair Diaz-Balart’s statement is at

The letter in opposition to Mr. Garrett’s amendment is at

The letter in support of Mr. Garrett’s amendment is at

The roll call vote on H.R. 2577 final passage is at

NLIHC’s updated budget chart is at