Senate Passes Bipartisan Minibus that Includes Funding for Important Housing Programs
On Wednesday, the Senate passed its bipartisan “minibus” spending package, H.R. 6147, with a 92-6 vote. The $154.2 billion package combined four separate spending bills for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19), appropriating funding for the Departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Treasury, and the Interior. The legislation largely rejects the Administration’s budget proposal, which sought massive cuts in discretionary spending, and was able to secure a high level of bipartisan support by avoiding controversial policy riders.
The package provides funding for key housing programs administered by the HUD, and Enterprise is pleased to see that priority programs like the Community Development Block Grant Program (CBDG), the HOME Investment Partnership Program, and Section 4 were all funded at levels equal to FY18.
The minibus also provides funding for other notable housing programs, including rural housing assistance programs administered by the Department of Agriculture (USDA). While Section 515, a rural rental housing loan program, received level funding, funding for Section 521—USDA’s rural rental housing assistance program saw a slight decrease from $1.345 billion in FY18 to $1.33 billion for FY19. An amendment offered by Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) requires the Rural Housing Service to submit a report that outlines a preservation strategy for existing Section 515 properties.
The Senate also rejected the administration’s request to dramatically cut funding for the Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, providing $250 million for the program, level with FY18 numbers.
The Senate will now wait on the House to pass their versions of the THUD and Agriculture appropriations bills, and then lawmakers will head to conference to finalize spending levels for FY19. While the House also has largely rejected severe cuts to vital programs, their proposed legislation does differ in some ways from the Senate bill, including reductions in the allocations for both the CDFI fund and the HOME program. As the process moves forward, stakeholders and constituents can advocate for these programs by asking their representatives to support the Senate funding levels for the CDFI fund and the HOME program.