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Federal Budget Process

Will there be enough money to fund existing Section 8 and USDA Rental Assistance in 2013?

The Federal Budget Process

Phase 1: Budget deliberations
First week in February: President's Budget is Released
February: Congressional Budget Hearings begin.
March/April: U.S. House and U.S. Senate Budget Committees craft concurrent budget resolution. The budget resolution sets the spending limits for each of the 12 Appropriations committes. (see phase 2).

Phase 2: Appropriations
April/May: Funding ceilings are allocated to Appropriations Committees and Subcommittees. HUD funding is addressed in the Transportaton-Housing and Community Development (THUD) sub committee of the House and the Senate Appropriations Committees.

May/June: Appropriations Subcommittees deliberate, mark-up and pass bills; Bills pass out of Committee

June/July: Bills come up for vote on floor in House and Senate

September: More floor votes; conference committee(s) to hammer out differences; final passage of 12 bills 
Or....Possible Continuing Resolutions (CRs) or Omnibus bills. 

Click on the Budget Process and Timeline image below to see a larger version: 

Skinny budget proposes a fat lot of hurt

The Federal budget snapshot provided this week by the Trump administration is so bad that it's good. Now "Moderates" in the House and Senate will have an opportunity to take credit for fighting off cuts to beloved programs, thus saving their political "skins" in the 2018 mid-term elections. For example, expect that the Administration proposal to "zero-out" Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) will hit a brick wall of resistance as local legislators hear from local officials about the awful impacts on local communities. Your Congressional reps will fight like crazy to keep the cuts down to a "manageable" 50% and then claim victory. "We protected our communities from these awful cuts," they'll say...failing to mention that half of the funding is gone.

A little planning will make you a more effective advocate. 
  • Tip one: Stop and think. Your message should be clear and defensible, reflecting local realities, and emphasizing costs vs. benefits. Mobilize your volunteers, not just your program participants or members.
  • Tip two: Speak with one voice about the needs of the whole community. Shilling for a single program leaves you open to a charge of being a "special interest." 
  • Tip three: Don't argue for your program against the others. This could happen when your rep asks: "Is Meals on Wheels more worthy than Low Income Home Energy Assistance? Which one should I save?" Your answer should be: both are more important than more tax cuts for the wealthy or more nuclear weapons
Posted March 19, 2017
 What's the news in 2016?

USDA’s Rural Rental Assistance program would receive more than half of the overall proposed increase in spending. At $1.41 billion, the rural rental assistance program would see a $15.3 million increase in funding compared to FY 2016. The House bill matches the request for rental assistance included in the President’s budget and would likely allow USDA to renew all existing contracts.
Two of USDA’s most important preservation programs would see increases in funding. Program levels for USDA’s Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Loan program would go up by $6.6 million, while the Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization (MPR) program would receive an additional $3 million for housing vouchers. These programs are critical to USDA’s efforts to preserve its existing multifamily housing portfolio.

"A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that budget sequestration has deepened the nation’s affordable-housing crisis in alarming ways. And if the Republican Party cannot solve its political impasse, the crisis is only going to get worse.
"Republican leaders hope to devote much of the next few days to convincing conservatives to back the spending blueprint — with Price’s committee tentatively scheduled to vote on a proposal later this week, according to several GOP aides. Key to the sales pitch is a plan to offset the cost of the increased spending for the annual appropriations bills by slashing funding or finding savings elsewhere in the budget, such as in Medicaid and social services grant programs."

The GOP’s chances of passing a budget this year are dwindling as the Senate prepares for an impending brawl over a new Supreme Court nominee this spring. House and Senate Republican leaders have publicly declared they intend to complete the full appropriations process this year for the first time in two decades, just in time for the fall elections. But the party’s aggressive timeline is quickly moving out of reach, according to GOP aides and budget experts, making it increasingly likely the party will be forced to resort to another short-term funding measure or omnibus spending bill later this year.

Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) and other top Republicans are taking a serious look at adopting a sweeping anti-poverty plan long championed by black Democrats on Capitol Hill. Ryan has told the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) he’s pressing GOP appropriators to consider the CBC’s strategy of shifting more federal money to parts of the country with persistent poverty.

update February 9, 2016.

Stage 1 begins with the President's budget message due to be delivered on February 9th, but even before the message was sent Republicans decided that "dead on arrival" was not sufficient. They branded it "dead before arrival." Strap your seat belts for a contentious year! Congressional leadership seems caught between a rock and ....  Incumbents in tight races for re election seem reluctant to engage.  

What owners, tenants, and providers do ?
Right now you have 2 lobbying assignments
1. Register your program participants, neighbors and community members. Elected officials pay attention to voter and donors. Since you can't donate more than the fat cats, your best tool is having sack full of registered voters who want answers.
Invite a Congressperson to lunch! Extend an invitation to your congressional representatives to visit your property, hear about your programs, give them a plaque, cut a ribbon. Anything that gives them a hands on experience with real assisted housing properties and tenants can offset the perception created by 'the media'.
Change the narrative. You can start changing the perception of low income housing by participating in local events and highlighting your successes. Going to City council meetings and participating in community events helps your neighbors and your representatives understand that you're not 'an institution' you're part of their community. 
Make sure tenants are registered to vote. Now and then in an election year candidates pay attention to where registered voters live. Getting your names on the voter roles increases the chance that elected officals will want to hear your story. You can get the voter registration lists by address from your local Board of Elections, compare that to your tenant rolls and reach out to the unregistered. 

 What does it mean?

Fiscal Year:  The Federal budget runs from October to September of the following year.  FY 12 is 10/1/11 thru 9/30/12.

Budget and Appropriation Process (see column 1)

Budget:  Overall plan for spending. 

Funding levels for specific programs and agencies.  Appropriations bills are passed by Congress.

Authorization:  An act of Congress that creates a program.   Programs must be authorized before they can receive appropriations.

Subpages (1): HCV funding