I started to write this article last week on the possibility of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA, S1703, HR 3077) finding a vehicle this fall. I thought the chances for a large omnibus bill and tax hybrid were very possible then. But by Friday, it looked like the continuing resolution that keeps the government’s doors open until Nov. 21 could consume the rest of the year.
When I was in a positive mood earlier in the week, at home, I thought of our last win. The last large tax and spending omnibus bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, increased the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit by 12.5% in order to offset the reduction in its value from the reduction of corporate tax rates by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The overall House and Senate action came together remarkably fast. After its release in the evening of March 21, it took only 17 hours for the House to pass the bill, and in the afternoon of the 23rd, after a morning threat to veto because of the lack of border wall funding, the president signed the bill. The Senate had voted 65-32 after midnight that night.
If the continuing resolution is kicked back into December this year and finally passed, we thought we might find an opportunity to insert part or all of the AHCIA.
And then I went to our office in Washington. It is true that what you hear inside the Beltway is something you don’t hear in Maine, or anywhere else, unfortunately.
The news I learned is that the ongoing impeachment inquiry, which may go into December, has both sides of the aisle thinking about delaying budget negotiations into next year. Added to that, the 35-day government shutdown that occurred earlier this year could repeat itself over the border wall issue. In addition to wanting new funds for the wall, Republicans are also seeking to replace military money that the administration put toward the wall, which Democrats say they won’t do without safeguards against that type of action in the future.
Despite the gloomy prospect of several things happening or not happening, having time to continue to work on AHCIA sponsorship is great if Congress and the administration can agree on spending and tax issues by December, or even early January. If we get the “big bill” we want by then, the congressional negotiators need to know that the AHCIA is an important issue in their state or district; remember that none of us industry advocates will be in the room when the final draft bill gets written. Our fate will be in their hands, but you can help write the bill. The national advocacy button has been activated, and the Council of Independent State Housing Associations and the respective executive directors are asking their members to reach out to their congressional delegations for co-sponsorship. It is working. A call-to-action message is activating a growth in co-sponsorships, while similar support is being developed by ACTION organizations. Despite the uphill climb with everything else going on, or in the way, please check if your member of Congress is on the AHCIA House HR 3077 or Senate S1703 bill. Then please make the call to their office, either to ask them to co-sponsor or thank them for their current support. (You can find their phone numbers at GovTrack.)
Uphill climbs can produce the biggest winners; after all, one produced the Washington Nationals. My optimism now springs back to life, even inside the Beltway.
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