Amendments to T-HUD and MilCon-VA Appropriations Minibus (H.R 2577)

Heritage Action will key vote the following amendment(s) to the Senate’s T-HUD and MilCon-VA appropriations minibus (H.R. 2577):

Key Vote Alert: “YES” on Lee Amendment Defunding HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule 

This week, the Senate could vote on an amendment offered by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) 100% to H.R. 2577, which includes the Senate’s 2017 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Act. His amendment would defund the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule.

Finalized in July 2015, the AFFH rule massively expands federal intervention into local communities all across the country. The rule empowers the federal government to audit the demographic and socioeconomic status of local communities and essentially force state and local governments to remake neighborhoods as envisioned by progressive elites.

The 377-page rule conditions receipt of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to stringent requirements forcing neighborhoods to organize themselves around goals prescribed by Federal bureaucrats. Simply put, the AFFH effectively turns HUD into a National Zoning Authority for every locality across the country.

According to Stanley Kurtz at National Review:

“AFFH is an attempt to radically reinterpret FHA by creating a basis for de facto federal control of suburban zoning and planning, and a mandate for economic integration that exists nowhere in the original Fair Housing Act. AFFH is federal overreach on steroids, and deserves to be repealed and repudiated, not only on policy grounds but out of basic respect for the democratic process.”

Senator Lee fought to defund the AFFH rule last Congress, and was joined by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) 93%, who had a similar amendment successfully adopted by the House of Representatives into the 2016 T-HUD Appropriations Act by a vote of 229 to 193. However, that measure did not become law, which is why Senator Lee is offering an amendment to the 2017 T-HUD appropriations act to restrict any federal funding from being used to implement or enforce this rule. In an op-ed for the Daily Signal on Monday, Senator Lee argued that:

“Instead of helping all American families by lowering housing costs, the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule would only add yet another layer of bureaucratic red tape on developers, making it less likely—not more—that they will find it worthwhile to build more housing units.”

The Republican Senate majority must use the power of the purse to stand up to the Obama Administration’s unending executive overreach.  Stoping this egregious effort to bring Big Brother into local neighborhoods would be a great start.

To this end, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 41% should ensure that this germane, conservative amendment does not receive the same treatment as conservative amendments — i.e., those offered by Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) 41% and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) 77% — did during the Energy and Water Appropriations debate. As an aide to a conservative senator told the Daily Signal:

“The strategy is designed to let moderate[s] …  get on record voting for nominally good conservative policy while still allowing bad liberal policy to move forward”

The proliferation of political cover votes — as seen with the Zika amendments early in the week — appears likely to continue, as a Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) 17% amendment could be offered as a side-by-side to the Lee Amendment.  The Collins Amendment would serve as a mere talking point, as opposed to actually preventing HUD from becoming a “National Zoning Board.”

Heritage Action supports the Lee Amendment and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.