Hill Update: Harmful Amendments Filed
With increased spending caps provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attempted to demonstrate his ability to move bills on the Senate floor by bringing the long-stalled THUD bill to a full Senate vote. However, the filing of a number of harmful amendments caused consideration of the bill to halt on November 20, 2015.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI), the chair and the ranking member of the Senate THUD Appropriations Subcommittee, offered the substitute bill to replace the THUD bill that had passed the subcommittee in June 2015.
The substitute bill increased funding:
- For the HOME program from $66 million to $900 million, the FY15 level, and
- provided an additional $100 million for Community Development Block Grants.
But to the disappointment of many advocates, the bill did not provide needed funding for vouchers, public housing, nor homeless assistance.
Majority Leader McConnell’s efforts to move the bill on the floor were thwarted by fellow Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R). Senator Paul blocked consideration of the bill after Senator Collins objected to allowing a vote on his amendment to prohibit resources provided by the bill to assist refugees or those seeking asylum from 34 countries.
This FY16 THUD bill is unlikely to come back up as a stand-alone measure. When Congress returns on Monday, November 30, 2015, the Members will focus on finalizing an omnibus spending package before the current continuing resolution expires on Friday, December 11, 2015.
The THUD bill blocked by Senator Paul is different from the THUD bill that the Senate and House THUD subcommittees are negotiating in conference committee for inclusion in the omnibus spending bill. What the next iteration of the FY16 THUD appropriations bill will include remains to be seen.
In the hours prior to the THUD substitute bill stalling on the Senate floor, numerous amendments were filed, but none were voted on. Many of them would do damage to HUD programs.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) offered an amendment to fund HOME at $66 million, returning it to the level of the original Senate THUD bill that the Appropriations Committee passed in June, which would effectively end the HOME program.
Click here for the NLIHC FY16 priorities.
Click here for the NLIHC budget chart.