Waters hopes there's no attempt to make deep cuts to housing proposal

Waters hopes there's no attempt to make deep cuts to housing proposal
© Greg Nash

House Financial Services Chair Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersCrypto firm top executives to testify before Congress Powell, Yellen say they underestimated inflation and supply snarls The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back MORE (D-Calif.) said she hopes lawmakers won't make deep cuts to the affordable housing aid she’s pushing to be included in her party’s sweeping social benefits and climate spending plan, as Democrats look to trim the massive package to meet demands from moderates.

“We are not simply going to go along to get along. We're probably going to have to give an alternative to whatever is being suggested, and I certainly hope that there is no attempt by which to do deep cuts in housing,” Waters said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

The congresswoman, a fierce housing advocate, has pushed hard for affordable housing aid to remain in the Democrats’ spending plan, which the party aims to move through Congress using a procedure called reconciliation that will let them pass the bill without Republican support in the evenly-split Senate. 

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Last month, Water’s committee approved a sweeping $300 billion for investments in affordable housing to be included as part of the overall multitrillion-dollar reconciliation package.

Housing proposals included in the initial package sought to provide housing choice vouchers to thousands of people and help create and rehabilitate millions of affordable housing units.

It also would have established a program to provide first-generation homebuyers with access to thousands in down payment assistance — a move advocates see as a key step toward advancing equity in housing for Black people and people of color.

Waters has said all of the aid is at risk of being cut from the massive spending bill as moderates look to reduce its overall price tag, which was initially floated at $3.5 trillion.

“We're very much aware that the $3.5 trillion that appeared to be the number that we were negotiating has turned out to be something less. I can't even tell you at this point what the top line is,” she said, adding negotiations remain ongoing “about budget cuts.” 

But Waters warned on Wednesday that she won’t back down from pushing for the housing aid to remain in the final package, while leadership continues to work to find common ground between members’ competing demands for aid. 

Waters also addressed rumors she’s heard about proposed Section 8 vouchers being “zeroed out” in the aid. 

“We cannot let that happen. We cannot let Section 8 vouchers be zeroed out. Not only do they assist those who need subsidy from their government. We also have project-based section eight vouchers to build new unit. That's very important,” she said. 

Senate Banking Chair Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate race in Ohio poses crucial test for Democrats Powell says Fed will consider faster taper amid surging inflation Biden faces new pressure from climate groups after Powell pick MORE (D-Ohio), who is also fighting to protect the housing aid, said at the news conference on Wednesday that lawmakers are “still looking at what the ultimate allocation is” regarding the funding. 

“But either way, anyway, there will be housing assistance,” he said. “There will undoubtedly be down payment assistance, and there will be be major investments in housing.”

Some congressional aides have said the more than $300 million in aid for housing could be cut down to around just a third of the amount, Politico reported Wednesday. However, a Senate aide close to Brown brushed off the talks as rumors.  

Pressed about whether the topline for the housing aid will still be around $300 billion, Brown wouldn’t give a figure, but said “everything's gonna be reduced.” 

“Everybody wants to talk about the dollars and I do too,” Brown said.  “I want to think a lot about him and negotiate them.” 

“But the fact is we're going to invest in public housing, we're gonna invest in the down payment assistance we're gonna invest in the home program and vouchers and all of that. I just don’t know how much, “ he added.