Hill Update: Debate on Amendments Begin

After a controversial amendment threatened to derail the Senate from passing appropriations bills, senators were able to come to a deal, relieving the legislative logjam that delayed the FY17 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) spending bill from reaching the Senate floor.

The Senate is expected to begin debating amendments to the package of bills on Tuesday.

THUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) stated,

“This bill targets limited resources to programs that meet our most essential transportation and housing needs. For housing programs, this bill provides sufficient funding to renew all existing rental assistance for Section 8, and for public housing, elderly, and disability housing programs. The Appropriations Committee continues to face constraints that required us to make difficult decisions regarding funding at a time when resources are limited under the 2015 budget agreement.”

Even before the Senate begins debate on the THUD spending bill, issues have arisen that could prevent the bill from advancing.

The continuing debate on how to fund the response to the Zika virus, along with several issues related to the trucking industry, threaten to complicate the legislative path forward.

In addition, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and David Vitter (R-LA) have filed an amendment to prohibit HUD from implementing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule and its assessment tool.

Senators Lee and Cotton offered a similar amendment to last year’s THUD spending bill and have introduced a standalone bill.

NLIHC and other housing and civil rights groups sent letters to the Senate urging lawmakers to reject the AFFH amendment. NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel wrote,

“The Fair Housing Act makes it clear that any jurisdiction receiving federal housing and community development funds must demonstrate that it is spending those funds in a way that help realize fair housing choice. The [AFFH] regulation imposes no new obligations; it simply clarifies how jurisdictions can comply with existing obligations and provides tools to help them live up to the commitment that they have already made.”

The House Appropriations Committee will be able to bring appropriations bills to the House floor this week now that the May 15 deadline to produce a budget resolution has passed. The House Appropriations THUD Subcommittee will vote on its FY17 spending bill on May 18, 2016.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration voted on its FY17 spending bill on May 17, 2016. The full Appropriations committee will consider the bill on May 19, 2016.

NLIHC’s Letter Opposing Senator Lee’s Amendment

NLIHC Budget Chart

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