Capitol Connection: The 116th Congress - Checking off Support for Affordable Housing
Expectations are high within the Affordable Housing industry that we will see a real push for increased resources from the 116th Congress. Whether we accomplish that goal this year or next, the momentum we build in 2019 will certainly benefit us all in this Session.
The Housing Advisory Group (HAG), which I am proud and honored to chair, continues to participate in ACTION) calls, Hill meetings, and other collaborative decisions to further the housing credit and bond improvements and increases. We are served by a diverse executive committee, representing the best leaders in affordable housing. Through ACTION, this team is working on your behalf and is committed and unified not only in Washington, D.C., but across the country through the Council of Independent State Housing Associations (CISHA) like NYSAFAH, the Illinois Housing Council, and many more. Check out CISHA here.
For HAG, two of the key reasons we have access to the many House and Senate offices is Barbara Pate and David Gasson. Barbara (Davis & Harman since 2005) serves as counsel and first started working on Capitol Hill in 1980 for Rep. J.J. Pickle (TX) and later, House member Rep. Rob Portman (OH). David, HAG’s Executive Director, worked for both Rep. Richard Gephardt (MO) and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (ME) in several capacities. I know many of you know them, but I wanted to make sure they are recognized for their incredible work on the Hill.
Of course, expectations are high because of the leadership changes in Congress and the track record and demonstrated support in the past for our legislative efforts by these new congressional leaders. As the House committees have been finalized this week, we can start to check off the number of housing champions in this Congress. This is a scorecard we all want to monitor as our entire #HousingParty from local, state and national efforts continues to be one of the country’s most effective and impactful force influencing national policy.
- For the tax-writing committees I previously mentioned, Rep. Richard Neal (MA) is now the Ways and Means Chairman. Check (✔️) as a firm supporter for us.
- On the Select Revenue Subcommittee, Rep. Mike Thompson (✔️) will chair and Rep. Susan Delbene (WA) (✔️) has agreed to champion the House version of the new Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act that is currently being drafted.
- On the Senate Finance Committee, I can't quite check off new Chairman Chuck Grassley (IA), but he has a long history of working across the aisle with ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden (OR) who can be considered supportive (✔️). Republican committee members Sens. Portman (OH), Isakson (GA), and new member Sen. Todd Young all support (✔️✔️✔️) the LIHTC credit and bond fix. Of course, on the other side of the aisle, we can never thank Senator Maria Cantwell (WA) enough (✔️).
- For appropriated housing funds through HUD, several leaders also give us hope for increased resources. Senate T-HUD Chair, Susan Collins (ME), and Ranking Senator, Jack Reed (RI), have demonstrated a level of bi-partisan cooperation that is refreshing in this day and age. Happily, mark two ✔️✔️ here. We hope the House T-HUD committee, led by Rep. David Price (NC) and ranking Rep. Diaz-Balart (FL), can work in that same fashion. Both supported (✔️✔️) previous affordable housing legislation, and we are thankful for that.
We expect to see other issues arise that affect our industry like housing finance reform and infrastructure but, for now, the traction we have is matched by those leading the 116th Congress.
Thanks to Barbara and David for being a key part of that effort. Please continue to do your part by monitoring legislative leaders and members. Educating our leaders is key and should be viewed as an ongoing necessity.
As always, please stay tuned and let me know if you have any questions.
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