Democrats Threaten to Block FY18 Omnibus Spending Bill and its Low Funding Levels and Harmful Riders
On September 14, 2017, the House passed its FY18 omnibus spending package by a largely party-line vote of 211-198.
The spending package includes funding for affordable housing and community development programs at U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD.) The spending package now heads to the Senate where Democrats have already threatened to block the bill, given its low funding levels and harmful policy riders.
Appropriations Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) criticized the bill as “inadequate and partisan” and urged congressional leaders and the Trump administration to work towards a bipartisan deal to raise the FY18 spending caps.
Because of the very low spending limits set by Republican leaders, House appropriators were not able to provide the funding needed to maintain FY17 HUD program levels and to ensure that every household currently receiving housing assistance can remain in their homes.
While the House HUD spending bill does not propose funding cuts as deep as President Trump’s budget request, it would significantly cut funding for critical affordable housing programs that provide lifelines for extremely low income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, veterans, and other vulnerable populations.
NLIHC and others estimate that the bill would eliminate more than 140,000 housing vouchers that families are expected to use next year.
Earlier, the House debated several amendments to the spending bill that directly impact affordable housing and community development programs.
The House adopted an amendment offered by Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH) to shift Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) funding designated for private nonprofit organizations toward state and local governments. Currently, nonprofits use FHIP funds to help enforce federal fair housing laws, and these organizations address 70% of all housing discrimination complaints nationwide. State and local agencies may participate in the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP). The amendment, which NLIHC opposed, was adopted by a voice vote.
The House also adopted a sanctuary cities amendment from Representative Jason Smith (R-MO) that would prohibit HUD funds from being used for a state or local government entity or official if that state, entity, or official prohibits, or in any way restricts, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 225-195.