Senate Floor Live is a weekly news and analysis show hosted by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
This week, we’re covering flooring that isn’t gray.
In 2018, the Republican-controlled Senate passed an amendment to the FY2018 Budget Control Act that requires the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to create an alternative housing policy that would be “fiscally sound, equitable, and affordable.”
The amendment would have required HUD to include “market-based measures” for the purchase of new homes.
But Democrats objected to the requirement, arguing that HUD’s “mandate of a federally funded housing policy is an overreach that would place too much power in the hands of the secretary and the president.”
Instead, they proposed an amendment that would have exempted the HUD mandate from the budget control law.
This amendment was defeated by a vote of 58-42.
It’s a fair point.
The House of Representatives has not voted on an amendment like this since 2007.
But even if the Senate had passed an identical amendment, the House would have had to take it up and pass it, so the House wouldn’t have had the opportunity to debate the amendment.
It would have passed and signed into law by the president, with a Democratic-led House.
The Senate’s vote to reject the House amendment is significant.
Because the House had already voted to repeal the requirement that HUD purchase new homes, the Senate amendment would not have prevented the HUD from taking the same steps that the House did in repealing the mandate.
The Senate’s repeal of the HUD requirement would have been retroactive, meaning it would not apply to the purchase, lease, or occupancy of new, existing, or future housing.
It makes no sense to make such a retroactive rule retroactive.
And the fact that the amendment would also repeal the HUD mandates that are “market based” in the first place does not mean that HUD would have made a different decision.
HUD does not regulate “market forces.”
Rather, HUD regulates market conditions, including factors such as affordability, location, and occupancy.
The House amendment would eliminate HUD’s authority to regulate market forces in new housing and remove HUD’s ability to mandate a federally financed housing policy.
The amendment would further remove HUD from the decisionmaking process over the affordability of housing.
And in 2018, there was no reason to believe that HUD could have made such a determination for the 2018–19 budget.
As a matter of fact, HUD had not yet finalized its housing market planning plan for the year.
This is a critical decision, as HUD has to determine what the “needs of low- and moderate-income families are,” and it is not feasible to make an informed decision based on market conditions alone.HUD has not made an affordability determination in six years, and it has no plans to do so in 2018.
In fact, the agency has already proposed a $2.5 billion housing affordability reduction plan for 2021, and the Senate’s amendment to repeal HUD’s housing mandate would prevent HUD from even planning for that reduction.
It was clear that HUD was not prepared to implement its own housing affordability plan in 2018 because the agency’s budget has not been released.
In fact, in February 2018, HUD released its 2018 Budget for Fiscal Year 2019 (BFR) , which does not include a budget for housing affordability.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has also reported that HUD will not be able to adequately fund its own affordable housing program for the 2019–20 budget year.
HUD has also not released its budget projections for the 2020–21 budget year either.
Finally, HUD’s Housing Opportunity and Resiliency Strategy for Fiscal 2020 states that the agency expects to achieve “a minimum of 75 percent of the federal funding provided in fiscal year 2019 for housing assistance for low-income households.”
HUD’s budget for affordable housing for 2020 has not yet been released, but it appears to be in the range of $2 billion.
The only way to achieve HUD’s goal of 75% affordable housing is for HUD to conduct its own analysis and develop a plan to achieve that goal.
It is not clear whether HUD has done that.
The 2018 budget also includes a proposal to eliminate the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), which was created by the 2008 Housing and Community Development Act.
This Office is responsible for “investigating violations of the Federal Housing Act, the Fair Housing Act and other laws and regulations relating to the federal housing program and providing oversight of the administration of the program,” and its mandate is “to ensure compliance with federal laws and regulation related to the Federal housing program.”
The House of Delegates voted to eliminate OFHEO in June 2018, and a similar vote was taken in January 2019, meaning that the Senate will have to take up the OFHEIO proposal and pass the amendment to keep the Office intact.
The Office of Financial Management (OFMI), which is