Biden Commits to Affordable Housing in Infrastructure Package

Biden Commits to Affordable Housing in Infrastructure Package

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) recently issued a press release announcing that she secured a commitment from President Biden to include affordable housing investments in the infrastructure package enacted through a reconciliation process.

"As Chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee and a longtime advocate for ending homelessness and promoting fair, affordable, and accessible housing, my number one priority has been to ensure that President Biden’s infrastructure plan recognizes that Housing Is Infrastructure through robust funding. As I have followed all of the discussions on the bipartisan infrastructure deal, housing has not been part of the discussions. So, I spoke directly with President Biden on the need to include housing in reconciliation. The President assured me that housing would be included in reconciliation. In addition to this commitment during a White House meeting, the President also confirmed in his speech in Illinois yesterday that housing will be included in reconciliation," stated Waters.

In the July 7 Illinois speech the press release referenced, the president said the following on the reconciliation package, “We need to deal with the shortage of affordable housing in America. Over 10 million renters in this country pay more than half their income for the rent on their apartment, and the lack of affordable housing prevents people from moving to communities where there are more opportunities. So, we’re going to make historic investment in affordable housing, increasing and improving the housing supply by building and rehabilitating more than 2 million homes, especially in places that need more housing.”

One level deeper: Reconciliation is a special process that makes it easier for legislation to pass the Senate. The process allows for tax, spending, and debt limit bills to be expedited by avoiding typical congressional hold-ups. The reconciliation process can be undertaken only if the House and Senate agree on a budget resolution that includes “reconciliation directives” for committees first.

Budget resolutions cannot be filibustered and are not sent to the president to be signed into law. Reconciliation bills bring forth laws that reflect the priorities laid out in the budget resolution. Like budget resolutions, reconciliation bills cannot be filibustered. So, instead of needing 60 votes, these bills can be passed by a simple majority.

Since the Senate is split 50-50 down party lines, reconciliation would allow Senate Democrats to pass a tax and spending bill onto Biden’s desk without any Republican support because Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote.

What you need to know: President Biden’s American Jobs Plan infrastructure proposal includes investing an additional $55 billion in low-income housing tax credits. And Chairwoman Water's press release follows an infrastructure bill approved on July 1 by the House of Representatives.

The House voted to send the $1.5 trillion legislation to the Senate. The Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2) includes provisions to increase the annual 9 percent low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) allocation amount, establish a permanent 4 percent LIHTC rate, and temporarily reduce the 50 percent financed-by test for bond-financed housing to 25 percent. The bill would also provide a 150 percent first-year LIHTC award to address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.