CHN: Fiscal Year 2010 Set to Begin: No Funding Bills Have Been Completed
The October 1 beginning of the 2010 fiscal year is fast approaching and Congress has not completed work on any of its 12 appropriations bills which provide annual funding for all discretionary programs. The House is set to vote this week on a one-month stopgap continuing resolution (CR) extending funding for annually appropriated programs at current levels until the bills can be passed as separate measures. The Senate plans to vote on the CR next week.
The House passed all 12 of its FY 2010 appropriations bills prior to the August congressional recess; the Senate passed four bills before recess and on September 17 passed the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (HUD) bill. House and Senate leaders hope that most, if not all, of the 12 appropriations bills can pass individually, and thus avoid an omnibus spending bill – which provides funding for multiple bills – towards the end of the calendar year.
The Transportation-HUD bill that passed the Senate 73-25 provides funding for key low-income housing and homelessness programs. The overall funding of $45.8 billion for HUD in FY 2010 in the Senate bill is an increase of 10 percent over current funding, but $1.3 billion less than the $47.1 billion passed by the House in July.
Many of HUD’s housing programs must receive increased funding each year simply to keep up with costs. One example is the Section 8 rental voucher program, HUD’s largest program, currently funding 2.1 million units. Vouchers fill the gap between the 30 percent of income paid by the tenants and the actual cost of renting the unit. Incomes of tenants are declining, which means the voucher must cover a larger proportion of the rent. To compare funding for programs in the House and Senate bills with current levels see the National Low Income Housing Coalition budget chart at: http://www.nlihc.org/doc/FY10-chart-8-24.pdf .
Two amendments to the HUD bill passed during Senate consideration. The first, sponsored by Senator Johanns (R-NE), would bar ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) from receiving any funds from the bill. ACORN, which has a long history of providing housing services to low-income residents throughout the country, has received HUD funds to provide housing counseling. With ACORN damaged by widely screened videos showing apparent wrongdoing by staff in a few of its offices, this amendment passed 83-7. The second successful amendment was sponsored by Senator Vitter (R-LA) to strengthen enforcement of an existing requirement that most adult residents of public housing projects contribute 8 hours of community service each month; it passed 73-25.