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Legislative Alert: Midterm Election Results Mean Changes in Washington and Opportunities for Housing

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 8, 2018

The midterm elections this week will lead to a number of leadership changes in Congress, along with many opportunities to further affordable housing resources. The Democrats clinched a majority in the House of Representatives while the Republicans grew their Senate majority. These shifts, in combination with a number of retirements, will mean committee leadership changes in the House as well as a number of new committee assignments in both chambers.

 

Committee Changes

 

Several Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) champions will be leaving Congress at the end of this year. Most notably, the lead sponsor of the House version of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Improvement Act, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), lost his reelection, leaving an opening for a Republican lead on this important legislation. In addition to Curbelo, other Ways and Means Committee members that lost their elections include: Reps. Pete Roskam (R-IL), Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Mike Bishop (R-MI). Six Ways and Means members additionally did not seek reelection: Reps. Sam Johnson (R-TX), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Diane Black (R-TN), Jim Renacci (R-OH) and Kristi Noem (R-SD). Finally, two Democrats, Reps. Sandy Levin (D-MI) and Joe Crowley (D-NY), will also not be returning. The current House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member and Democrat lead on the Housing Credit legislation, Representative Richard Neal (D-MA), won his race and is now poised to take the chairman role in the 116th Congress.

 

On the Senate side, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Finance Committee Chairman and Republican lead on the Senate version of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Improvement Act, is retiring, leaving the chairmanship position for this key committee open. The new leadership for the committee is still unclear, but conversations have centered on Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) taking the position, or Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID). Committee member changes include the loss of Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), who did not win his reelection bid along with Democrat committee member Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Senator Bill Nelson’s (D-FL) race is going into a recount, leaving another Democrat seat potentially up for grabs in the coveted committee. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Democrat lead on the Housing Credit legislation won her reelection and will continue to be a champion for affordable housing issues on this committee.

 

Other key committee shifts will be prevalent in the House under the new Democrat leadership, as well as some shifts in key Senate committees. The House Appropriations Committee will likely see Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) as the first chairwoman in the history of the committee. Under Lowey’s leadership, the Committee would likely turn more focus on domestic spending priorities. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) would likely serve as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee again in his first full session in the role. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) would likely take over as chairwoman for the House Financial Services Committee, while Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID) may stay on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. If Senator Crapo takes the gavel for Senate Finance, the Banking Committee would likely go to Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA).

 

What’s Next? Lame Duck Session Opportunity

 

Congressional Republicans now only have a few short weeks to enact their remaining priorities in the 115th Congress, which could mean last minute tax legislation such as tax extenders and technical fixes to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These efforts could provide a vehicle for important Housing Credit improvements such as enacting a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate and other important provisions of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Improvement Act. With more than 40 percent of Congress signed on as cosponsors to the legislation, NALHFA and other Housing Credit advocates are in a strong position to negotiate these important priorities into tax legislation as it emerges. NALHFA members should ask their Members of Congress to encourage congressional leadership to pass the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act or to include the legislation in the next tax package that Congress advances in the 115th Congress.

 

State and Local Housing Wins

 

There was an unprecedented number of affordable housing issues on the ballot at the state and local levels this year. Voters in many communities voted to provide increased affordable housing resources at this critical time during the country’s affordable housing crisis.

  • California voters passed Propositions 1 and 2 that will create billions in funding for the creation of affordable housing for vulnerable populations including the chronically homeless, people with disabilities or mental illness, and military veterans.
  •  Oregon passed two initiatives to create access to safe and affordable homes for 12,000 of the state’s lowest income people.
  • San Francisco, CA passed Prop C which would provide $2.4 billion in affordable housing and services for the chronically homeless.
  • Austin, TX voted for a $250 million affordable housing bond.
  • Charlotte and Chapel Hill, NC and San Juan County and Bellingham, Washington passed bonds to address affordable housing needs.

 

These state and local housing wins show the widespread support for increasing affordable housing resources across the country. It also highlights an opportunity for NALHFA to build on its efforts advocating for resources that will help local housing finance agencies preserve and create more affordable housing options. NALHFA plans to use this momentum to strengthen our partnerships and work with Congress to further strong bipartisan affordable housing solutions.

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