With House Democrats poised to take control of the chamber in early January, leadership choices for the House and Senate have been finalized by the respective Democratic and Republican Caucuses—except for the final floor vote for House Speaker on January 3, 2019. The Senate will once again see Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader, and Nancy Pelosi is the odds-on favorite to win a second term as Speaker of the House.
In the Senate, Democrats and Republicans selected their incoming leaders for the 116th Congress shortly after the mid-term elections. Their new and returning chamber and party leaders are:
116th SENATE LEADERSHIP
In the House, Republicans selected their leaders shortly after the mid-terms, while the Democrats just finalized their choices. The incoming House chamber and party leaders are:
116th HOUSE LEADERSHIP
* delineated in U.S. Constitution
Contact CLPHA Legislative Director Gerard Holder for questions or further information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On November 19, CLPHA hosted a member call to receive feedback regarding comments on the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed rule, “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.” “Public Charge” is a term used by U.S. immigration officials to refer to an individual who is “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.” An immigrant who is found to be “likely . . . to become a public charge” may be denied admission to the U.S. or lawful permanent resident status.
The current public charge definition only considers cash assistance and long-term institutionalized care, while the new rule proposes expanding the list of benefits considered under this definition to include, among others, public housing, Housing Choice Vouchers, and Project-Based Rental Assistance. During the call, CLPHA members expressed concern about the proposal’s lack of clarity, the potential for additional burdens required of PHAs, and the overall chilling effect that the rule could have among residents and their families, as well as their decision to maintain housing assistance.
CLPHA will be submitting comments to the proposed rule, which are due on December 10, 2018.
A new bill from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) that includes an array of tax provisions could put Housing Credit legislation back in play during the lame duck session of Congress. The “Retirement, Savings, and Other Tax Relief Act of 2018,” would renew some expired tax provisions, make technical corrections to the recent tax cut legislation, provide incentives for retirement savings, provide tax relief for disaster victims and make improvements to the IRS.
Sections 502 and 503 of the bill clarify the tax exemption for veterans from the Housing Credit general public use rule and aligns the multifamily Housing Bond program’s general public use requirement with the Housing Credit’s general public use requirement.
According to the ACTION Campaign, where CLPHA is a Steering Committee member, this is important because, "IRS officials have recently communicated with some bond counsel that the Housing Credit’s general public use rules do not pertain to the Bond program, thus causing problems for 4 percent Credit deals that provide preferences for veterans."
Since Republicans want to move the package before the lame duck session expires, the package is expected to bypass the committee process, and it is likely to receive a vote on the House floor later this week.
But, the Republican proposal is widely seen as an opening bid with room for negotiation from House Democrats to insert their own provisions, such as the Housing Credit, in order to get the bill over the finish line. Still, some Democratic Senators have already indicated they would prefer to wait until the start of the new 116th Congress before considering any changes to tax legislation.
As negotiations continue, CLPHA will work closely with ACTION, congressional champions, our members and others to advance the housing tax credit agenda.
Contact CLPHA Legislative Director Gerard Holder with questions at email@example.com
While the federal House and Senate races were the big story of Tuesday’s midterm elections, voters across the country considered critical state and local ballot issues as well, including eight states that dealt with the construction of affordable housing or expanding protections for renters. According to Pew’s Stateline midterm election coverage, under most of the measures, cities would rely on bonds and targeted tax increases to fund affordable housing.
Successful measures included:
California’s Propositions 1 and 2: Proposition 1 allows the state to sell $4 billion in general obligation bonds to fund affordable housing for low-income individuals, farmworkers, and veterans; and Proposition 2 authorizes $2 billion in previously appropriated funding to go toward housing for the chronically homeless, people with disabilities and the mentally ill.
Oregon Measure 102: This amends the state Constitution to give local governments more flexibility to use bond dollars for affordable housing developments.
Portland Ballot Measure 26-199: This $652.8 million bond measure to build more affordable housing was proposed by Metro leaders. Half of the funds will go toward construction of new homes and the other half is dedicated to rehabilitating existing low-cost housing to ensure it stays in use, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Voters also approved housing measures in Austin, Texas; Bellingham, Washington; Charlotte, North Carolina; Oakland and San Francisco, California.
By now you know the House Democrats have regained the majority for the first time since 2010. CLPHA’s early mid-term election analysis takes a quick look at the committee makeup of the first session of the 116th Congress beginning January 3, 2019.
While eleven races are still undecided, the Democrats are credited with gaining over 30 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The U.S. Senate will remain under the control of the current Republican majority in 2019 with fifty-one seats credited and two races still undecided (in Arizona and Florida), setting the stage for either a gridlocked Congress over the next two years, or an unlikely “let’s work together in a bi-partisan fashion” Congress.
Housing advocates are buoyed by post-election comments from President Trump and House Minority Leader—and possible 116th Congress Speaker—Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who both expressed interest in moving forward with infrastructure legislation; and by the increasing number of recently elected legislators, at the national, state and local levels, who have made affordable housing and homelessness a cornerstone of their campaign platforms.
What is unknown, but will become more evident as the lame duck session of the 115th Congress winds down and the formation of the 116th Congress takes shape, is the makeup of the House and Senate committees, the formal place where the bulk of legislative work occurs. With any new Congress, there are normal House and Senate committee adjustments and realignments affecting their composition as members choose committee assignments based on seniority, personal preferences, and other factors.
Based upon the current assignments, the new chairpersons and ranking members are likely to be Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) as full chair of House Financial Services, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) as full chair of House Appropriations. The full ranking member position for these committees is uncertain given the retirement of current chairs Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) at Financial Services and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) at Appropriations. By contrast, House Ways and Means, the tax writing committee, will likely see Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) assume the chairmanship with Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) as the ranking member.
On the Senate side, expectations are for chairs and ranking members to remain in their current positions for committees of particular importance to CLPHA, with one notable exception. Sen. Michael Crapo (R-ID) is expected to remain as chairman, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who was just reelected, is expected to remain the ranking member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is expected to remain chairman, and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is expected to remain ranking member of Appropriations. Given the retirement of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the incoming chair of Finance is uncertain, but Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is expected to remain ranking member.
While Committee leadership is somewhat predictable, the larger membership of these committees and subcommittees will dramatically shift as the result of resignations, legislators vying for other electoral offices, retirements, and legislators defeated in this past week’s mid-term elections. There will be a few departures in the Senate, but most of the known committee departures will occur in the House. Among them are:
DEPARTING COMMITTEE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS --
House Financial Services Committee
House Appropriations Committee
House Ways and Means Committee
Senate Banking, House, and Urban Affairs Committee
Senate Appropriations Committee
Senate Finance Committee
CLPHA will keep members apprised of new developments as the 115th Congress lame duck session proceeds, especially given the uncertainty over the FY19 funding process, and as the 116thCongress begins to take shape. Contact Gerard Holder with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.