During a press conference on January 19, President Joe Biden acknowledged that the “Build Back Better Act,” his landmark social program and climate change bill, will likely be “substantially slimmed down” before it is enacted. Parts of the bill that do not make it into a scaled-back version could be repackaged into stand-alone bills. These would require support from all Senate Democrats and at least 10 Senate Republicans, as well as separate floor time during an election year, ensuring virtually no chance of enactment this year. Recent reporting from the Wall Street Journal suggests that housing is not included in the current set of priorities for a reformulated reconciliation bill. It is critical that advocates urge your members of Congress to protect and advance the bill’s historic investments in rental assistance, public housing, and the Housing Trust Fund as part of any reconciliation bill that advances.
The $1.75 trillion package currently contains $150 billion for investments in affordable housing and community development programs, including significant funding for NLIHC’s HoUSed campaign’s top policy priorities:
- $25 billion to expand housing vouchers to more than 300,000 households
- $65 billion to preserve public housing for its 2.5 million residents
- $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve over 150,000 affordable, accessible homes for households with the lowest incomes
While the House of Representatives voted in November 2021 to approve the Build Back Better Act, the bill stalled in the Senate after Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced in December 2021 that he would not support the package as it is currently written (see Memo, 12/20/21). To advance the bill, Congressional leaders are using a process called “budget reconciliation,” which allows Congress to enact legislation with a simple majority in the Senate, rather than the 60 votes typically required in the chamber. For the bill to move forward, it must garner the support of every Democratic senator.
To gain Senator Manchin’s support, congressional leaders will make significant changes to the legislation. Any effort to reduce the size and scope of the economic recovery package puts affordable housing investments at risk of deep cuts or elimination, and a separate bill containing only the housing provisions will face an even steeper path to enactment.
As negotiations between the Senate and the administration resume, it is crucial that advocates continue to make their voices heard to protect and advance the bill’s historic affordable housing investments.
The Build Back Better Act is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make significant investments in the affordable housing programs directly targeted to households with the lowest incomes. Congress must seize this moment to quickly enact a recovery package that includes the bold affordable housing investments currently included in the bill.
- Your members of Congress need to hear from you about why investments in rental assistance, public housing, and the Housing Trust Fund are critical to your community and why they must remain in any budget reconciliation package. Breaking off housing investments into a separate bill is unacceptable.
- Join more than 1,800 national, state, and local organizations by signing onto the HoUSed campaign’s national letter in support of historic investments in rental assistance, public housing, and the Housing Trust Fund in a reconciliation bill.
Thank you for your advocacy!