House moves to slash community development, transit spending

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Subcommittee chairman Tom Latham (R-Iowa) said it was one of several tough choices, but one mandated by the lack of an overall sequester replacement deal in Congress.

“This was not an easy task,” he said. “These are difficult tradeoffs, but we still did our best to provide adequate funding, protect higher-priority programs, and eliminate duplication, waste, fraud, and abuse.”

Latham said he prioritized three programs in the bill: funding the surface transportation law passed in 2012, providing for homeless veterans and avoiding air traffic controller furloughs.

Democrats blasted the bill as unacceptable.

“Chairman Latham tried to produce a reasonable bill, but the unacceptably low allocation thwarted his efforts,” full committee Ranking member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said. 

She noted that the bill cuts funding for affordable housing HOME program to its lowest level in two-decade history and cuts in half efforts control lead paint exposure.

She lamented slashed funding for Amtrak, which has a 21 percent cut to its operating budget, and a rider prohibiting spending on high speed rail in California.

“THUD usually has broad bipartisan support. Unfortunately, the inadequate allocation has resulted in an unacceptable bill that I cannot support,” Lowey said. 

Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) said the bill shows the appropriations committee has been eclipsed in power due to the sequester, and that it is unable to function.

“Are we totally helpless here?” he said. 

The size of the cuts means that the House THUD bill has little chance of being accepted by the Senate. An inability to agree on a bill would mean a continuing resolution is passed before Oct. 1. A continuing resolution at current levels would be subject to an indiscriminate sequester cut 15 days after Congress adjourns for the year.