On October 28, 2015, the House 266-167 to pass H.R. 1314, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.
Nearly 80 Republicans joined Democrats in support of the measure, which eliminates 90%of the sequestration budget cuts for non-defense discretionary programs in fiscal year 2016 and about 60 percent in 2017.
All of NJ’s Congressional delegation voted in favor except for:
Increase discretionary spending by $80 billion over two years
Divide relief equally between defense and non-defense – a one to one parity
Spread relief over two years (FY 2016 and FY 2017), providing $50 billion in FY 2016 and $30 billion in FY 2017 (so $25 billion in relief for NDD in ’16 and $15 billion for NDD in ’17)
Provide an additional $32 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding over two years for defense and non-defense security programs.
The agreement extends the debt ceiling until March 5, 2017 and keeps the federal government open beyond December 11, 2015.
The Senate will now begin consideration of the bill, and Senate passage is expected as soon as this weekend.
The next step is to ensure that appropriators draft an omnibus package that is free of harmful riders that will trigger presidential veto and a government shutdown.
On a call with non-defense discretionary funding advocates on October 28, 2015, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer said of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015,
“It is not a final step but positive and a good step for us to take.”
Additional funding for the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs such as the Housing Choice Voucher Program is critical. Hoyer cautioned that it is “still a very tight budget.”
Additional funding is now available to restore the vouchers lost due to sequestration. We must make a strong case that as much as possible goes to HUD and restoring the 67,000 remaining vouchers lost due to sequestration.
This budget deal provides significantly more funds to HUD programs and puts the money on the table to restore the vouchers lost to sequestration.
Congress needs to provide $18.05 billion to simply renew all the vouchers in use this year. The House provided a little more – $18.15 billion – the Senate a little less – $17.98 billion – so the final FY 2016 appropriations bill should maintain the already-agreed-upon levels to renew all vouchers in use. Now is the time for advocates to talk to their Senators and Representatives about priorities.
About $500 million additional funds above the renewal amount are necessary to restore all the vouchers lost due to sequestration. The Senate bill made progress by providing $20 million for new FUP vouchers and $75 million for new HUD-VASH vouchers. Congress should now finish the job of restoring all vouchers lost due to sequestration by providing additional targeted vouchers for homeless families and veterans.
Other priorities include preventing huge cuts to HOME and funding additional units through McKinney-Vento to end chronic homelessness. The HUD budget needs as large a portion of these additional funds as possible.
Click here for a copy of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.