House Begins Consideration of Appropriations Bills for Fiscal Year 2017—USDA Funding One of the First to be Considered

CARH’S BROADCAST E-MAIL – Legislative Update

April 15, 2016

On Wednesday, April 13, the House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Subcommittee favorably reported to the full House Appropriations Committee, funding for the programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. As CARH members know, this is the bill which provides funding for the housing programs administered by Rural Development (RD) and the Rural Housing Service (RHS). The Subcommittee’s recommendations for housing programs are essentially in-line with the Administration’s FY 2017 budget request. The full House Appropriations Committee will consider the USDA funding bill next week.

The attached chart provides an overview of the recommended levels of funding. Of particular concern to CARH members is the level of funding for the Section 521 Rental Assistance (RA) program. The Subcommittee has proposed funding at $1.405 billion, the Administration’s request. As recommended by the Administration, the Subcommittee did not include in the proposed bill the budget language that prohibited a second renewal within the same contract year, which had been included the last two year fiscal year budgets, and which triggered the RA crisis last year. The proposed FY 2017 bill reflects the bi-partisan efforts in both the House and Senate which helped resolve many of the RA issues that were reached late last year in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113). We are however concerned about certain language carried over from the FY 2016 Omnibus language expanding RD’s discretion on re-using RA funds from prior contracts and will express concerns to Congressional offices.

The Section 515 program would be funded at $35 million, with $10.36 million allocated for new construction. The Multifamily Housing Preservation and Revitalization (MPR) program would be funded at $22 million, the FY 2016 level of funding and $2 million more than requested by the Administration. The Section 538 Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing Program would have an obligation level of $200 million, $30 million less than the budget request but $50 million over the FY 2016 appropriated level. While CARH supports the budget request of $230 million, we appreciate the Subcommittee’s proposed funding for the program of $200 million. We do believe that some regulatory changes need to be made that will enhance the program, thus allowing more transactions to be funded by the Section 538 program. On April 13, 2016, CARH sent a letter to Tony Hernandez, Administrator of RHS, outlining recommended changes. The letter was a result of input and work from several of CARH’s Section 538 lenders and participants.

The path forward for the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Subcommittee FY 2017 funding bill is not yet clear, though the Senate has begun working on appropriations legislation. This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted funding allocations for each of its twelve Subcommittees, known as the 302(b) allocations. The allocations mirrors the funding levels agreed to last November in the two-year budget agreement passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama (P.L. 114-74). It will now be up to each of the Subcommittees to provide funding based now on the 302(b) allocations. The 302(b) allocation is the spending cap allocated to each Appropriation Subcommittee. While Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Subcommittee has yet to schedule a mark-upon, on April 14 Senate Majority Leader McConnell filed for cloture on the motion to bring the Energy and Water Development spending bill to the Senate floor next week.

The House Appropriations Committee opted not to adopt a full set of 302 (b) allocation caps, in part because House Republicans in the Freedom Caucus have said they don’t support the 2015 budget agreement numbers, advocating for at least $30 billion in cuts to programs. This disagreement has held delayed action in on a FY 2017 budget resolution (H. Con. Res 125).

CARH will continue to update members on the FY 2017 budget developments. The Congressional calendar will be condensed this year due to the November Presidential and Congressional elections. CARH’s Annual Meeting and Legislative Conference will be an important time for CARH members to meet with their members of Congress and staff. At the same time, it is important that CARH members continue your grassroots efforts now so that your Senators and Representatives understand the importance of funding all affordable housing programs.

To contact your Senators, click here.

To contact your Representatives, click here.

Please contact the CARH national office at or 703-837-9001 should you have questions.

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