November 11, 2020

Senate Appropriations Committee Releases FY2021 Spending Bills

This week the Senate Committee on Appropriations unveiled all twelve of its Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) spending bills, including the FY21 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), Agriculture-FDA, and Financial Services General Government (FSGG) funding bills. Several critical affordable housing and community development programs saw increases over the enacted FY20 funding levels, as lawmakers once again rejected the drastic cuts contained in the President’s budget request. 

The THUD bill increased the overall funding at HUD by $2.9 billion over the FY20 enacted level, with the topline number for the federal agency coming in at $59.5 billion. This figure surpassed the President’s budget request for the agency by more than $11 billion but fell short of the House bill's total amount. 

A full breakdown of funding levels can be found in Enterprise’s budget chart, but a few examples from the Senate bills include: 

  • $1.375 billion for HOME, $25 million over FY20 (an increase of 2%). This program was proposed for elimination in the President’s budget request.
  • $3.455 billion for CDBG, $30 million over FY20 (an increase of 1%). This program was proposed for elimination in the President’s budget request.
  • $41 million for the Section 4 Capacity Building program, $5 million above FY20 (an increase of 14%). This program was proposed for elimination in the President’s budget request.
  • $262 million for Community Development Financial Institutions, equal to the FY20 enacted level. The President’s budget proposal called for eliminating the program, while the House bill proposed increasing funding to $273.5 million. 
  • $40 million for USDA’s Section 515 Rental Housing program. This is the same amount enacted in FY20 and proposed by the House in FY21. This program was proposed for elimination in the President’s budget request.

The THUD bill also included $25.516 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA), roughly $1.6 billion above the FY20 enacted level (an increase of 7%), and roughly $6.68 billion above the President’s FY21 budget request (an increase of 36%). The Senate’s total for the program came in $224 million under the House’s allocated amount. Estimates suggest that 2021 TBRA renewal costs will be roughly $300 - $550 million above the House and Senate bill levels, which should be sufficient if Congress is able to provide more funding in Covid-19 legislation. 

Project-Based Rental Assistance received $13.4 billion, which was $833 million over the amount enacted in FY20 (an increase of 7%), and $761 million above the President's FY21 request (an increase of 6%). The Senate’s proposed total was $48 million below the allocated amount in the House’s FY21 bill. 

Policies Senate Bill Did Not Address 

Unlike the appropriations bill provided by the House, the Senate did not weigh in on several controversial proposals from the administration such as HUD’s proposed changes to the Equal Access Rule, which if put in place would allow shelter providers that lawfully operate as single-sex or sex-segregated facilities to voluntarily establish a policy that could limit admission for people whose gender identity does not match their biological sex. They also did not comment on HUD’s proposed rule prohibiting “mixed-status” families — households whose members have different citizenship and immigration statuses — from living in public and other subsidized housing. Additionally, the Senate provided no input on HUD’s changes to the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing rule and Disparate Impact rule.

Emergency Supplemental Infrastructure Investment Not Included 

In contrast with the House bill, the Senate did not incorporate any emergency supplemental infrastructure funding either. The House bill contained a section designed to help spark economic recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic through a $75 billion investment into our nation’s infrastructure. Of that total, $49 billion went specifically to housing, including $24.3 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund, $17.5 billion for the HOME program, $4 billion for CDBG Grants, and $40 million for the Section 4 Capacity Building program.

Next Steps 

Now that the Senate has released the text of these twelve measures, they may begin the negotiation process with the House, who already passed most of their appropriations bills over the summer. The two chambers will have until December 11, when the current Continuing Resolution is set to expire, to reach an agreement in order to prevent a government shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12), and top appropriators have all indicated that they want to pass a comprehensive package that consolidates all twelve appropriations bills known as an omnibus.  Additionally, some lawmakers have raised the possibility of attaching targeted pandemic relief into the government funding bill.

The FY21 budget cap for non-defense spending is set at $634.5 billion, only a $2.5 billion increase over FY20. This should make the bicameral, bipartisan negotiation process rather straightforward, as lawmakers have a clear outline from last year’s agreement on how funding should be dispersed. Amid this public health emergency and economic uncertainty, the country cannot afford a shutdown and lapse in crucial government services. Enterprise urges lawmakers and the Administration to quickly finalize FY21 appropriations legislation that prioritizes funding for affordable housing and community development programs. 

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