National Low Income Housing Coalition
The partial federal government shutdown, now into its fourth week, continues with no end in sight. On January 10, House Democrats, who passed a package of spending bills to end the government shutdown earlier in January, voted on several individual spending bills, including those for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) and for USDA. Both bills propose funding levels and policy proposals for affordable housing programs identical to those included in the Senate’s versions of the FY19 USDA and THUD spending bills and would also provide retroactive pay to federal workers at those agencies. The House passed the THUD spending bill by a vote of 244-180 and the USDA spending bill by a vote of 243-183, with several Republicans voting in favor of each.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will not bring the bills up for a vote in the Senate, however, because President Trump has said he will not sign any spending bill into law until he gets a significant increase in funding for a southern border wall. Congressional leaders met with President Trump on January 9 in the hopes of reaching a deal to reopen the federal government, but those talks were unsuccessful when President Trump abruptly left the meeting.
The Trump administration is now proposing to divert emergency funding to border security. The plan would target funding originally allocated to the Army Corps of Engineers for infrastructure projects in areas that experienced disasters in 2017, specifically in Puerto Rico and California. The President has not indicated he would attempt to use Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds – a crucial resource for disaster housing recovery. The president would need to declare a national emergency to redirect funding for Army Corps of Engineers’ reconstruction projects.