The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations recently approved theFY2016 Transportation, HUD (THUD), and related agencies Appropriations Bill. The major goals of the bill are to increase the efficiency and affordability of federal housing programs and provide funding for transportation and infrastructure priorities, working within the guidelines of the Budget Control Act. The bill was approved on a 20-10 vote.
According to a press release from the committee, this action will make $55.65 billion in funds available for consideration by the Senate, a $1.88 billion increase from FY2015 and $7 billion below the amount the President Obama requested. The legislation provides $37.56 billion for HUD specifically, an increase of nearly $2 billion above the FY2015 enacted level and $3 billion below the President’s request.
“The American economy relies on the effectiveness of our infrastructure, which makes this legislation important,” said U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “The demands for more infrastructure investment are significant. The budget requires us to set priorities and this Senate bill makes those choices and focuses on using the taxpayer money wisely.”
The bill provides additional funding for housing America’s most vulnerable individuals and families, while improving housing programs’ effectiveness, according to the committee. The measure also recommends $40.26 billion for federal-aid highway programs and increases funding for U.S. aviation, rail safety and the nation’s ports, and intermodal water and land transportation.
“Through negotiation and compromise, this bipartisan bill makes smart investments in our nation’s infrastructure, helps meet the housing needs of the most vulnerable among us, and provides funding for economic development projects in our communities,” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), chair of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee. “From rental assistance for low-income families to safety-related provisions for our transportation infrastructure, the many critical programs funded by this bill were balanced to fund the wide range of operations that play a crucial role in reinvigorating our economy.”
HUD Secretary Julián Castro voiced his concerns with the proposed FY16 budget, noting that the Republican budget would only make matters worse. He also said that a deep cut is being made to a vital housing program, HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), down to $66 million from$1.05 billion per President Obama’s request and this would be a loss of an estimated 38,665 affordable housing units.
“HUD creates new opportunities for the people we serve every single day. Yet, in this difficult fiscal environment, our budget is unable to keep up with the need for our services,” Castro said. “At current funding levels, we are only able to serve one in four families who are eligible for our housing. We cannot meet our mission of providing every American with access to quality housing and a strong community by allowing sequestration level cuts to continue.”
HUD Goals Defined by the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations:
- Community Planning and Development
- Emphasis on Youth Homelessness
- Moving-to-Work Expansion
- Section 8 and Public Housing
- Preserving Rental Assistance