The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate were back in session this week to tackle a broad legislative agenda, including negotiations over a fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget and the development of an outline for a potential revival of the stalled reconciliation package.
Despite making early progress, appropriations leaders in the House and Senate signaled they still have a long way to go before reaching an agreement on topline funding numbers for the FY23 federal spending package. The FY22 budget was significantly delayed because of partisan disagreements over how much to increase funding for defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs, with Democrats maintaining a significant increase in NDD was necessary to make up for years of austerity under the “Budget Control Act” and Republicans insisting on parity between NDD and defense programs.
Appropriations leaders are aiming to avoid another significant delay in enacting an FY23 budget, but it remains unlikely that Congress will be able to draft, review, and enact a spending package before the new fiscal year begins on October 1, making at least one continuing resolution very probable. Continuing resolutions extend the level of funding for federal programs approved by Congress in the previous fiscal year, but because the cost of housing is tied to market rates, which generally rise every year, increased funding is necessary to maintain the current number of households served by HUD’s and USDA’s vital affordable housing programs. The severe increase in inflation – driven largely by the increased cost of housing – means that HUD and USDA must receive significant funding increases in FY23 to maintain their current levels of service. 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.
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.
The appropriations process is vital to ensuring continued and expanded funding for HUD’s affordable housing programs. However, budget reconciliation – which allows the Senate to pass legislation with a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the 60 votes typically required in the chamber – represents the best opportunity to secure the bold, large-scale investments in affordable housing needed to address the severe lack of deeply affordable rental homes.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin – the lone Democratic holdout opposing last year’s “Build Back Better Act” – is signaling his reluctance to return to the negotiating table to revive a scaled-down reconciliation package. Instead, the senator and some of his colleagues are pursuing a bipartisan climate change bill that would move through the Senate under regular order, meaning it would need at least 60 votes to pass. Despite assembling a group of eight Republicans and eight Democrats to work with him on crafting the legislation, the prospects that Senator Manchin will be able to gather 60 votes in the chamber are slim. Some members of Congress fear that attempting to negotiate a bipartisan climate deal – which is unlikely to advance this year – will further delay reconciliation discussions.
Senator Manchin maintains that any future reconciliation package should focus on increasing federal revenues by changing the tax code and using those revenues to fight inflation and draw down the federal deficit. The cost of housing is the single largest component of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a popular measure of inflation, and addressing the rising cost of housing is central to decreasing inflationary pressure on households, especially in the long term. 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.
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.