Congress Faces Deadline to Fund Federal Government for Remainder of FY19

National Low Income Housing Coalition 

Congress has so far failed to enact several federal spending bills for FY19, including those that fund affordable housing and community development programs.  The current stopgap funding measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), expires on December 7. If no action is taken before then, a partial government shutdown would occur. It is likely, however, the recent death of former President George H.W. Bush, whose body will lie in state at the Capitol for several days, will result in an additional short-term, perhaps one-week, CR. President Trump indicated on December 1 that he was open to a such an extension if congressional leaders request one.

The main issue preventing lawmakers from reaching a full-year deal is President Trump’s insistence that any spending agreement includes $5 billion for a southern border wall, which Democrats strongly oppose. Lawmakers have begun discussing passing a year-long CR through September 30, 2019 instead of passing the remaining full-year spending bills that have largely been negotiated and agreed to. A CR carries forward funding levels from the previous year.

A year-long CR would cause thousands of families to lose access to stable housing. For FY19, HUD needs approximately $1.3 billion more than FY18 spending levels to maintain current program levels and renew existing housing assistance contracts. Such an increase would keep all families using tenant and project-based rental assistance in their homes, including veterans who have recently received HUD-VASH vouchers. Both the House and Senate bills propose sufficient funding to sustain current levels of rental assistance reflecting market-rate rents, as Congress intended. A year-long CR at FY18 levels would result in deep cuts to critical housing programs that could cause thousands of families and children to lose access to stable housing, putting them at increased risk of homelessness.

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