Congress Approves Continuing Resolution
On September 18, the Senate passed by a vote of 78 to 22 the House-passed continuing resolution (CR), H.J. Res. 124. The CR continues funding for all federally funded programs through December 11, 2014 at slightly below FY 2014 funding levels, on an annualized basis. To offset new funding provided through a few targeted provisions in the CR, including funding to combat the Ebola outbreak in Africa, while not exceeding the overall FY 2014 spending level, the CR includes an across-the-board funding reduction of almost 0.06 percent, compared to FY 2014 levels. As described in NCSHA’s September 17 blog post, the House passed the CR on September 17. In a Statement of Administration Policy, the Administration voiced its support for passage of the CR. The President is expected to sign the legislation soon. Congress has now adjourned until after the November elections and is scheduled to reconvene on November 12.
Congress needed to approve a CR or other funding legislation to avoid a government shutdown when FY 2015 begins on October 1 because it has not yet enacted any FY 2015 appropriations bills. The CR includes no anomalies, or funding adjustments, for HUD or U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rural housing programs. However, the bill does include several changes to existing law, which the House Appropriations Committee press release accompanying the CR says, “are needed to prevent catastrophic, irreversible, or detrimental changes to government programs, to address current national or global crises, or to ensure good government.” Anomalies in the CR include additional funding to help fight the Ebola crisis and to process disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs and provisions providing a continuation of current funding for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program and an extension of authority, through June 30, 2015, for the Export-Import Bank.
The CR also includes authority requested by the President to act against the threat posed by the Islamic State. The authority was added to the CR as a floor amendment during the CR’s consideration in the House.
Since the CR will expire on December 11, Congress will need to approve another CR or other FY 2015 funding legislation during its post-election lame duck session to ensure that federally funded programs continue operating after that date. It remains unclear at this time whether Congress will be able to approve a package of new FY 2015 funding bills in an omnibus bill, similar to the way FY 2014 appropriations were finalized, or if it will need to pass another funding extension and then continue consideration of FY 2015 appropriations in the new Congress. Senate and House Appropriations Committee leadership have expressed their desire to pass an omnibus appropriations bill during the lame duck session. Following Senate passage of the CR, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) stated, “I see this CR as a bridge to an omnibus. It sets the stage for Congress to come together after the election to do an omnibus funding bill for fiscal year 2015.”
NCSHA joined 31 other national organizations this week in sending a letter to congressional leaders expressing concern that a long-term or full-year CR for HUD programs at FY 2014 funding levels will not adequately address growing housing needs and encouraging Congress to pass an FY 2015 HUD funding bill this fall.
See NCSHA’s funding chart for additional information on HUD and USDA housing program funding levels.