--- Issued Oct. 1, 2015

– from The Washington Update:

On the night of September 30,  Congress sent President Obama a short-term continuing resolution (CR) with just hours to spare before a government shutdown would be triggered. The bill continues FY 2015 spending levels for federal departments and agencies, including all HUD programs, until December 11.

Because both the Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs operate on a calendar-year basis instead of hewing to the federal fiscal year, PHAs will not receive any distributions from the current CR.  Instead, funding levels for Public Housing and Housing Choice Vouchers will be determined by a subsequent piece of legislation, whether it be an omnibus appropriations act covering the entire government or an additional CR. In past years during which a CR has been in place at the beginning of the calendar year, HUD has used conservative estimates of funding availability when determining distributions for the initial months.

Typically, these estimates are based on the lowest of the proposed funding levels, almost all of which were contained in the House version of the FY 2016 bill.  For programs that are funded through one-time distributions each year, like the Capital Fund, HOME, CDBG, and many other CPD programs, no distributions will be made until a final appropriations act is passed.

The passage of CR was aided by the departure of House Speaker John Boehner, who announced his resignation late last week. The Speaker was placed in a difficult position by members of his own party; conservatives threatened to challenge his position as Speaker if he moved forward with a “clean” spending bill that did not include a provision to remove government funding of Planned Parenthood. But such a bill could not pass the Senate and would not be signed by the President, putting the government at risk of a shutdown.
After rejecting a CR that included a policy provision that defunded Planned Parenthood last week, the Senate yesterday morning approved a clean CR by a vote of 78-20. The House quickly passed the Senate’s clean CR later that afternoon by a vote of 277-151. No longer fearing threats from within his party, Speaker Boehner relied heavily on Democrats to approve the CR, which was supported by all Democrats present and opposed by 151 Republicans. The President signed the bill late last night.

The passage of a CR averts a government shutdown in the immediate future, but it does not solve the larger issue of funding for the full fiscal year.

The FY 2016 appropriations process broke down earlier this year after a disagreement between Democrats and Republicans over topline spending levels. Senate Democrats successfully blocked all appropriations bills, claiming that the bills written at the FY 2016 spending cap limit were not adequate to meet the needs of the nation. The spending limits were put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011, the bill that ushered in sequestration and severely limited spending levels until FY 2020.
Both sides of the aisle seem to agree that a deal is needed that would allow the FY 2016 spending cap to be raised and adequate appropriations bills to be written, but negotiations to strike a deal have not yet begun.  Reach out to your members of Congress today to urge them to adopt a budget deal that would raise spending caps for the current fiscal year.

The resignation of Speaker Boehner could complicate the prospects of a budget deal. The House is expected to hold leadership votes next week to replace Speaker Boehner and any other positions that open up as members shift in leadership positions. Current Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is expected to win the race for Speaker and it is still unclear whether Leader McCarthy will be as willing as Speaker Boehner has been to work with Democrats, a willingness that frequently put him at odds with his party. However, Leader McCarthy did vote to approve the clean CR.

Regardless of whether a budget deal can be reached, the passage of a CR is bad government and is the admission that the appropriations process has broken down, once again. Communities that receive funding from grant programs such as the Community Development Block Grant program, the HOME Investment Partnerships, and Choice Neighborhoods will not learn about their grant awards until a full year bill has been approved, forcing communities to plan for a fiscal year without knowing their full budget.