Stalled Reconciliation Negotiations Pick Up, While Appropriations Talks Proceed Slowly – Take Action!

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) met last week to discuss the outline of a potential reconciliation package, giving the clearest signal in weeks that congressional Democrats have not yet given up on enacting a reconciliation bill before the November midterms. Senator Manchin – the Senate’s lone Democratic holdout on the “Build Back Better Act,” which would have provided $150 billion in affordable housing investments – maintains that any future 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.

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.

Some Democrats in Congress have set the unofficial deadline for reaching an agreement on the framework for a revised reconciliation package as Memorial Day (May 30), which is fast approaching. Settling on an official framework before Memorial Day is possible but unlikely, and with negotiations picking up, it is more likely that talks between Majority Leader Schumer and Senator Manchin will resume in early June, when Congress is back in session after its Memorial Day recess.

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 vital to ensuring continued and expanded funding for HUD’s affordable housing programs.

While appropriations leaders in the House and Senate are hoping to avoid a significant delay in the fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget, there is still a long way to go before an agreement is reached on topline spending numbers for the new fiscal year. Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) met twice last week to continue talks on topline numbers, but urgent supplemental funding measures – including aid to Ukraine and a bill to address the infant formula shortage – have slowed down FY23 negotiations.

Still, appropriators remain optimistic they will be able to avoid a significant delay in enacting an FY23 omnibus 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.

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 Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member Kay Granter (R-TX) set a tentative schedule for Appropriations subcommittees to review and vote on their respective bills during June 13-22 and for a full committee review and vote during 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.

Take Action

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: