House Moves Quickly on Spending Bills and Tax Reform

The House Budget Committee is currently debating its budget blueprint for FY18 and tax reform, which was released yesterday. If approved by Congress, the plan would dramatically re-write federal priorities over the next 10 years. The blueprint increases defense spending by nearly $1 trillion, reduces investments in domestic programs by $1.3 trillion — to its lowest level since before the Great Depression — and calls for more than $4.4 trillion in cuts to mandatory programs that ensure basic living standards for low income families, including Medicaid and food stamps. The blueprint fast-tracks the first $200 billion in cuts to help pay for tax cuts.

Moreover, the blueprint directs the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees affordable housing and community development programs, to find at least $14 billion in savings. It offers states the ability to take block grants for Medicaid and to add strict work requirements on Medicaid and food stamp recipients.

While the Committee expected to approve the blueprint, it is unclear whether it has enough support to pass on the House floor, let alone in the Senate, where moderate Republicans would likely be reluctant to approve such deep cuts.

Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee moved forward with its FY18 spending bill for affordable housing and community development programs. NLIHC and others estimate the bill would result in the loss of more than 140,000 housing vouchers. Without this assistance, families face immediate risk of eviction and, in worst cases, homelessness. The bill also continues to cut funding for programs that provide states and communities flexible resources to address their pressing housing and community development challenges. For more detailed information, see NLIHC’s analysis and updated budget chart.

The bill was approved largely along party lines, and it now heads to the House floor where it is expected to be combined into a larger spending package.

House Democrats offered several amendments to address the funding shortfalls in the spending bill, but each amendment was defeated by a strict party-line vote:

  • Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced an amendment to extend the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which was proposed for elimination in the House bill. She also offered amendments to increase resources for the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program and for public housing administrative fees. After her amendments were voted down, Ms. Lee warned that the Committee “had turned its back” on the most vulnerable people in our communities.
  • Ranking Member David Price (D-NC) offered a $200 billion amendment to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, including resources for public housing, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), Choice Neighborhood grants, HOME, and housing for the elderly and people with disabilities.
  • Other amendments would have increased funding for Housing Choice Vouchers (Pingree), public housing repairs (Serrano), lead-based hazards (Lowey), CDBG (Cartwright), and housing vouchers for survivors of domestic violence (Clark) and homeless veterans (Kaptur).

The Senate is expected to begin its work on spending bills and a budget blueprint in the coming weeks. We will continue to pay close attention as Congress moves forward and will keep advocates updated.

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