House Democrats urge leaders to keep housing in reconciliation bill
House Democrats are pushing President Biden and party leaders to keep more than $300 billion for affordable housing in their sprawling social services and climate bill.
In a letter released Wednesday night, every Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee urged Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to spare a historic investment in housing amid a historic rise in home prices and rents.
“It is abundantly clear that we will need long-term, equitable measures to help families recover from the effects of the pandemic by investing in housing stabilization, job creation, and increased economic opportunity,” wrote the Financial Services Democrats, led by Chairwoman Maxine Waters (Calif.)
“As we continue to work together to pass a broad-ranging and comprehensive infrastructure plan, we cannot ignore the immediate housing infrastructure needs facing individuals, families, and communities throughout the United States,” they continued. “Just as we need to invest in our nation’s roads and bridges, it is also absolutely essential that we invest in our nation’s affordable housing.”
The Financial Services panel last month approved hundreds of billions in funding for public housing repairs and expansion, tax credits and incentives meant to increase the private supply of affordable housing, and payment assistance programs for first-time or low-income aspiring homeowners.
Those programs, however, are likely on the chopping block as House Democrats face tough choices on how to pare down their $3.5 trillion plan to win over moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.).
How exactly Democrats slim down the package depends largely on Manchin’s and Sinema’s policy priorities. It’s also unclear whether the party aims to cut costs by shortening the length of proposed programs, narrowing the scope of the bill or some combination of both.
Even so, Pelosi made no mention of affordable housing or ending homelessness in a Monday letter to House Democrats highlighting the three main focus points for the pending measure: health care, childcare and climate.
“Housing is health care, it is stability for children, it is climate justice, and it is racial justice. This is an investment that simply cannot wait and must be included at robust levels in the budget reconciliation package,” wrote the Financial Services Democrats.
“This is what families across the country—from California and Arizona, to Iowa and West Virginia—voted Democrats into office to address. This is our opportunity to meet our constituents where they are in this moment,” they continued.