Congress Passes “Cromnibus” Funding Bill for FY 2015, Tax Extenders Legislation is Pending

CARH'S BROADCAST E-MAIL –
Legislative Update

December 15, 2014

Late on Saturday, December 13th, the Senate, by a vote of 56 to 40, passed a full year appropriations bill for every agency in the federal government, except the Department of Homeland Security which will be funded through the end of February. H.R. 83, the "Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (also referred to as the "Cromnibus") provides $1.1 trillion in funding.

This vote was preceded with a vote in the House of 219-206 on December 11th.  While many of the provisions were worked out in House and Senate committees over the spring and summer, the spending measure was delayed until after the November elections, when Congress returned for its "lame-duck" session.  But, in today's Washington, DC, little is without controversy.  Voting became controversial over topics like the President's immigration reform executive order and how Congressional Republicans would respond.  There were other concerns, specifically a late maneuver by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) to call the constitutionality of the measure into question. In the arcane world of Senate procedure, it resulted in a measure to move forward various pending nominations previously submitted by the President.  The President is expected to sign the "Cromnibus" bill today or tomorrow.

As CARH members recall from our September 12 broadcast email, none of the 11 appropriations bills were passed by the Congress prior to the beginning of the Fiscal Year (FY) on October 1, 2014.  Prior to recessing for the November elections, Congress did pass a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) which kept the government open until December 11th. While the Cronmibus did not pass before the end of the short CR, an additional two- day funding bill passed, thereby averting a shut-down of the government, which happened last year.

First, as CARH members can ascertain from the attached chart for Rural Development's (RD) housing program, there were few differences in what the House had passed in H.R. 4800 and what the Senate Appropriations Committee had recommended in S. 2389.   The Section 521 Rental Assistance (RA) program would receive $1.089 billion, the level of funding recommended by the Administration in its FY 2015 budget request.  Again, as CARH members know from our March 6 broadcast email on the budget, the Administration had recommended three changes to the RA program.  Two of the three proposals were rejected by Congress but the proposal that would no longer allow re-renewal of RA contracts within a 12 month period of time was agreed to by both the House and Senate.  CARH and other affordable housing groups opposed this language.  CARH argued that the Agency has control over the RA budget as is, and has the most complete information on RA usage through the MINC system.  The Section 538 program has been provided with $150 million in budget authority and the Multifamily Revitalization Program (MPR) would be funded at $17 million, $3 million less than the budget request.  The Congressional Directives accompanying the bill provides, among other matters, that the Department provide a report to the Appropriations Committees by June 1, 2015, regarding implementation of new authority related to the RA program. The report should include plans for determining rental rates, timeline and anticipated effect of any implementation.

The attached chart for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) shows funding levels for housing and community development and related programs.  Basically, each housing program was funded at or nearly at the levels discussed in bills reported by the House and Senate subcommittees.  Funding was stable for project based and tenant based Section 8. Project based Section 8 was funded at about $9.7 billion.  Tenant Protection Vouchers, key to properties going through RAD and to protect tenants in pre-paying HUD properties was funded at $130 million.  Public housing funding was relatively stable, but like most programs, a clip lower than FY2014.  HOME saw the largest reduction, down to $900 million.

It is expected that on Tuesday, December 16, the Senate will take up H.R. 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act, also known as the "Tax Extenders Bill" as passed by the House.  Contained in the bill is an extension of the fixed flat rate for the 9 percent and the 4 percent Housing Credit program through the end of December, 2014.  While CARH appreciates the extension of the flat rate for the credit program, it arrives too late in a majority of the states for developers and owners to take advantage.  Most applications have already been submitted using the lower, floating rates.  Since the House has left Washington, it would be highly unlikely that the Senate would amend the tax extenders legislation.  For symbolic purposes it is important that the Senate pass the tax extenders and President Obama sign legislation into law, given that there is wide speculation that tax reform will be part of the 114th Congress that will convene in January.

Please contact the CARH national office at carh@carh.org or 703-837-9001 should you have questions or concerns.    Many of these issues will be discussed in detail during CARH's January meeting in St. Pete Beach, Florida.  You will not want to miss this meeting to find out how the latest Congressional action will impact your business.  A meeting brochure can be found on CARH's web page:  http://www.carh.org/.   

Comments are closed.