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Capitol Connection - December 3, 2013


12/3/13

by Bob Moss, Principal and National Director of Governmental Affairs.

With very few congressional days left on the 2013 calendar, the December 13 deadline for reaching a budget agreement is coming fast. Congressional budget leaders Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) are hard at work to find middle ground on federal spending levels between their respective budget plans – somewhere between the $967 billion contained in the Budget Control Act and the $1.058 trillion proposed by Senate Democrats. While there is potential for a deal to be introduced this week and brought to the floor next week, lawmakers on both sides are eager to stay past December 13 if a compromise appears attainable. The thought of another government shutdown going into the New Year does not bode well for either party.

The 2013 sequestration effects on affordable housing have been disastrous, and part of the agreement could be to temporarily restore those cuts in exchange for restoring $21 billion in defense programs. According to OMB, approximately 140,000 family vouchers were lost this year to meet the spending levels set in the 2011 Budget Control Act. Whether these cuts can be restored will be dependent on whether the budget leaders can find middle ground on new revenue. With tax increases off the table from the very start of the negotiations – both parties ruled out a grand bargain – new revenue from fees imposed upon selling broadband spectrum and airport security are being discussed.

If the budget talks break down, and given the track record of the 113th Congress many believe this effort could fail, back room talks have already started with a group of bi-partisan senators. Created during the government shutdown, the 16-member “common sense caucus,” led by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.VA), consists of a group of centrist lawmakers who are not afraid to oppose party leaders. This group has built itself around a shared philosophy of offering constructive solutions, and may be the backstop we need to restore affordable housing funding. The fact that the “common sense caucus” has stuck together and offered their support to the budget leaders may lead to successful negotiations this December, and open the door for a Tax Reform proposal in January by Ways and Means Chairman David Camp (R-MI).

We are staying optimistic this holiday season, and look forward to what 2014 brings our affordable housing industry. As we know, offense is the best defense.

Bob Moss is a CohnReznick Principal and National Director of Governmental Affairs. Bob leads the Firm’s federal and state government relations efforts, particularly in the area of affordable housing. He can be reached at bob.moss@cohnreznick.com or 617-648-1406.


Circular 230 Notice: In compliance with U.S. Treasury Regulations, the information included herein (or in any attachment) is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of i) avoiding penalties the IRS and others may impose on the taxpayer or ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any tax related matters.

This has been prepared for information purposes and general guidance only and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and CohnReznick LLP, its members, employees and agents accept no liability, and disclaim all responsibility, for the consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.

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