Congress has recessed for Memorial Day until June 6, but before leaving the Capitol, Senate Democrats reported progress on reaching a potential outline for a revived reconciliation package. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) – the lone Democratic holdout in the Senate on last year’s “Build Back Better Act” – have continued negotiations, giving congressional Democrats and advocates hope that enacting a reconciliation bill this year is still possible.
Senator Manchin maintains that any reconciliation package should focus on increasing federal revenues by changing the tax code and using new revenues to fight inflation, address climate change, draw down the federal deficit, and reduce prescription drug costs. The cost of housing is the single largest component of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a key measure of inflation, and addressing the rising cost of housing is central to decreasing inflationary pressure on households, especially in the long term.
While some congressional Democrats set an unofficial deadline of Memorial Day (May 30) for reaching an agreement on the framework for a revised reconciliation package, Senator Manchin’s revived interest in negotiations has rekindled member optimism about reaching an agreement this year. However, the window for taking action is closing: with midterms in November, if a deal is not reached by the August recess, a reconciliation bill will probably not be enacted this year.
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 for 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.
Budget reconciliation – which allows the Senate to pass legislation with a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the 60 votes usually required in the chamber – represents the best opportunity to enact the bold, large-scale investments in affordable housing needed to address the severe lack of deeply affordable rental homes. However, the annual appropriations process is also vital to ensuring continued and expanded funding for HUD’s affordable housing programs.
Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced that he intends to convene appropriations leaders in the House and Senate – including Senate Appropriations Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL), House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and House Appropriations Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) – once Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess. Appropriations leaders are still searching for a compromise on topline spending numbers for the fiscal year (FY) 2023 spending package and hope to avoid a significant delay in enacting a final bill after the FY22 bill stalled for almost six months.
With Chair Leahy and Ranking Member Shelby both slated to retire at the end of the year, members are feeling optimistic they will be able to find a compromise and enact an omnibus spending package for FY23. Even without an agreement on topline funding numbers, appropriators in the House will likely move forward with drafting FY23 spending bills, using President Biden’s FY23 budget request as a benchmark. House appropriators set a tentative schedule for Appropriations subcommittees to review and vote on their respective bills during the period June 13-22 and for a full committee review and vote during the period June 22-30.
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 possible level of funding 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.
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 to push for increased federal affordable housing investments:
- Sign your organization on to our annual 302(b) 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.