Housing advocates and home builders fear federal housing aid may be put on the chopping block as White House and Democratic leaders consider slashing $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation bill in a bid to facilitate its adoption by Congress.
The new conflict over which the agendas of President Joe Biden’s broad economic agenda will survive comes as the residential construction industry has spent more than $ 3 million on lobbying in the first half of 2021.
Democratic Party leaders plan to cut $ 300 billion in federal housing assistance that would go toward building new affordable housing, repairing public housing and creating new housing tax credits, First POLITICO reported.
Senators Joe Manchin (DW.V.) and Kyrsten Simema (D-Arizona), whose votes are needed to pass any domestic spending program, have said they will not vote for the House bill unless that the price is reduced. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Said Tuesday she was “disappointed” that the Senate did not proceed with the $ 3.5 trillion package, but that Democrats “are making decisions that will continue. to be transformative “.
The housing building lobby, housing advocacy groups and some members of the Democratic Party are already speaking out against the potential change in funds. They argue that the affordable housing crisis in the country should be a top priority in any social spending bill.
Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Chair of the House financial services committee that initially advocated the housing component of the legislation, wrote a letter co-signed by 26 other House Democrats asking party leaders to save housing money by applying cuts evenly “at all levels”.
The housing deficit in the United States has jumped to about 5.5 million units, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors, and house prices continue to rise to record highs.
Jerry Howard, chief executive of the National Association of Home Builders, and the group’s lead lobbyist Jim Tobin applauded Waters’ plea on the NAHB podcast and denounced the idea that housing funds could be entirely removed from the package.
“[Waters] is a tenacious fighter, she believes in housing, she believes in getting more money for the lower end of the economic spectrum through housing, ”Tobin said in the podcast. “In our conversations with their team, they’re not going to take this lying down.”
The NAHB spends significantly more on lobbying than any other group in the homebuilding industry, according to data from OpenSecrets. In the first half of 2021, the NAHB spent $ 1.7 million lobbying on at least 17 bills. During the same period, the entire home construction industry spent $ 3 million on lobbying.
In 2020, the NAHB spent $ 3.6 million on lobbying, up from $ 3.2 million in 2019.
Other top-spending housing industry groups in 2021 include Leading Builders of America, which spent $ 325,000, the Manufactured Housing Institute, and the Affordable Housing Developers Council, which each spent $ 240,000.
The NAHB spends similar amounts on political contributions. During the 2020 election cycle, the group’s PAC spent $ 3 million, of which about 74% went to Republicans. PAC also provided a $ 10,000 contribution to Water’s PAC leadership.
Housing and civil rights groups have also come out to advocate for housing assistance. The National Low Income Housing Coalition released a statement Oct. 7 touting the benefits of billions of investments in low-income housing.
“Stable and affordable housing is the foundation upon which all of the other priorities of the bill are built,” the organization’s president, Diane Yentel, said in the statement. “Better health care or increased access to education will do little for families who sleep in their cars or under bridges.”
However, the extent of reported federal lobbying spending among these advocacy groups is minimal compared to the residential construction lobby.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition last reported that lobbying spending was in 2018, when groups spent just $ 40,000. The National Fair Housing Alliance, which also fights to maintain housing assistance, spent $ 60,000 on lobbying in the first half of 2021.
Housing groups are also lobbying Congress to give more help to first-time homebuyers, POLITICO reported.
Waters and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) Have proposed legislation that would provide direct payments to first-generation first-time homebuyers valued at up to $ 25,000. But the alternative proposal from Senate Finance Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Would give $ 15,000 in tax credits to all first-time buyers.
The National Fair Housing Alliance, the National Urban League and the National Housing Conference supported Waters and Warnock’s proposal. They argue that help is needed to close the racial wealth gap.
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