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 email@example.com.