Both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are in session this week, with lawmakers having returned from their home districts and states to Capitol Hill. Members of Congress now have until September 30 to reach an agreement on funding the federal government or risk a partial government shutdown beginning on October 1.
Throughout the August recess, leaders in the House and Senate continued conversations on the federal budget, with both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) agreeing that a short-term spending measure – known as a continuing resolution (CR) – would be necessary to keep the federal government funded in the short term. CRs maintain the previously appropriated year’s level of funding for federal programs for a specified period of time, which would give lawmakers more time to reach an agreement on a fiscal year (FY) 2024 funding package. Because the costs of housing and development rise every year, it is crucial that HUD’s affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs receive increased annual appropriations just to maintain the current number of people and communities served.
While both Democrats and Republicans have voiced their commitment to avoiding a shutdown, the path to enacting a CR remains unclear. The White House, along with most of the Senate and many members of the House, support attaching a supplemental funding measure to the CR that would provide additional funding for purposes like disaster relief, as well as continued aid to Ukraine. Members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, however, have roundly rejected calls for supplemental spending and are instead insisting on attaching provisions to the CR that would impose even deeper spending cuts on vital federal programs.
With the House back in session, Speaker McCarthy must decide whether he will bring to the House floor a CR and supplemental spending bill that would garner the bipartisan support it needs to be enacted into law, or whether he will instead bend to the will of the most extreme members of his party and propose a disastrous CR that could pass the House along a party-line vote and die in the Democrat-controlled Senate. The latter option will certainly slow down the process of enacting a CR and increase the likelihood of a government shutdown.
Meanwhile, Appropriations leaders in the Senate are preparing to bring a package of three FY24 spending bills – known as a “minibus” – to the floor as soon as today (9/11), including the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill. The Senate THUD bill would provide an $8.26 billion (roughly 13%) increase to HUD’s budget over FY23-enacted levels, despite Appropriations leaders drafting their bills according to the austere topline funding caps provided under the debt ceiling agreement, known as the “Fiscal Responsibility Act.”
While the THUD bill was approved by the Senate Committee on Appropriations with bipartisan support (see Memo, 7/24), a full vote in the Senate will likely present the opportunity to add potentially harmful amendments to the bills under consideration. NLIHC will be sure to monitor the vote and respond to any potentially harmful amendments. Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Vice Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) are reportedly aiming to pass all 12 appropriations bills for FY24 in the Senate before the September 30 deadline, putting the chamber in a strong position for negotiations with the House.
Together, we can – and have – achieved historic protections and resources for renters with the lowest incomes, and together we can continue to fight the ongoing threat of cuts to HUD’s vital affordable housing and homelessness resources. Advocates can use NLIHC’s Legislative Action Center to call or email their members of Congress and urge them to expand – not cut – funding for HUD’s vital affordable housing and homelessness programs in the FY24 budget.
Thanks to the hard work of advocates across the country, who mobilized to weigh in with their elected officials, HUD’s vital rental assistance, homelessness assistance, and tribal housing program were spared from cuts in both the House and Senate draft bills. We still have work to do to ensure these funding levels remain in a final bill, and that other critical programs, such as Public Housing, are also fully funded.
Keep making your voice heard, and tell Congress that it cannot balance the federal budget at the expense of people with the lowest incomes! Advocates can take action TODAY in the following ways:
- Contact your senators and representatives to urge them to expand – not cut – investments in affordable, accessible homes through the FY24 spending bill, including by:
- Providing the Senate’s proposed funding for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) and Project-Based Rental Assistance programs. While both the House and Senate provided increased funding for these vital programs, it is unlikely that the House’s proposed funding levels would be sufficient to renew all existing contracts. The Senate bill provides funding not only sufficient to renew existing voucher contracts but to expand vouchers to an additional 4,000 households.
- Ensuring full funding for public housing operations and repairs. Both the House and Senate bill propose funding cuts to the Public Housing Capital Fund, despite an over $70 billion capital needs backlog in the public housing portfolio. While the Senate bill provides increased funding for Public Housing Operations – which the House bill cut – it is crucial that these programs receive increased funding in FY24 just to maintain the current level of services.
- Allocating the Senate’s proposed funding for Homeless Assistance Grants. HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants (HAG) program provides vital funding to respond to the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
- Protecting funding for legal assistance to prevent evictions in the Senate bill. The Senate bill maintains $20 million in funding for a new grant program for legal assistance to prevent evictions, which the House proposal eliminates.
- Appropriating the House’s proposed funding for Native housing. While both the House and Senate bills would provide increased funding for native housing programs, the House spending bill would provide a more than 40% increase from FY23 to the Native American Housing Block Grant program – a significant investment towards addressing the housing crisis on tribal lands.
- Join over 2,000 organizations by signing on to a national letter from the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF), calling on Congress to oppose budget cuts and instead to support the highest level of funding possible for affordable housing, homelessness, and community development resources in FY24.
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