The recent government shutdown and the potential for another in just a few weeks have left many wondering whether Members of Congress can accomplish much, if anything, before turning their focus to the November elections. While that may turn out to be the case, we are not leaving anything to chance. We are working hard to be ready whenever any potential vehicle for our affordable housing agenda might emerge. In that regard, we wanted to update you on some recent developments of interest to the industry.
As we reported earlier, our House affordable housing champion Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) announced last October that he would leave Congress this January to head up the Ohio Business Roundtable, which he did on January 15. Rep. Tiberi will be greatly missed by the affordable housing community, but we wish him all the best in his new endeavor and thank him for his superb leadership and tenacious advocacy on our behalf. Rep. Tiberi’s political know-how and keen intuition kept us in good stead over the years — particularly during the recent tax reform effort. Without his guidance and persistence, the LIHTC and private activity bonds might have been left on the cutting room floor. We also appreciate the dedication of Rep. Tiberi’s staff, and especially want to thank Whitney Daffner and Brad Bailey for their commitment and hard work on behalf of affordable housing.
Over the past few months, Rep. Tiberi has been working hard to ensure that we will have strong House Republican advocates ready to step up in support of the LIHTC and private activity bonds. Rep. Tiberi asked Housing Advisory Group (HAG) Chairman Bob Moss and HAG board member Mike Novogradac to meet with House Ways and Means Committee members Kenny Marchant (R-TX) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) to discuss the affordable housing crisis and legislative solutions. Both Members are keenly interested in the LIHTC program and are well aware of the need for additional resources.
We also want to note that Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), our Senate Republican lead sponsor, recently announced his plans to retire at the end of this session. Chairman Hatch has worked closely with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in support of our agenda, and his retirement will be a big loss. But his support for affordable housing will be key in our efforts this year. In a recent meeting with Chairman Hatch’s Finance Committee staff, we were told that the increase in credit allocation authority remains a priority issue for the Chairman. His staff noted the possibility for legislation addressing tax provisions that expired at the end of 2016 and suggested that a bipartisan bill might be an opportunity to accommodate other items beyond the expired provisions. While there is no guarantee that this will happen or that it would include our cap increase, we remain very encouraged by Chairman Hatch’s commitment to affordable housing and the cap increase.
We, along with other ACTION Campaign members, have been in touch with Senator Cantwell and her staff on a regular basis to map out strategies for increasing affordable housing resources. Senator Cantwell’s staff has actively engaged the industry with an aggressive game plan to be ready for the first possible opportunity to move her bill. In that regard, we, and other ACTION members, are providing Senator Cantwell with critical housing information and data for the Senator to use in discussions with her colleagues. We also have met with key committee and leadership staff on both sides of the Hill, and ramped up our visits to House and Senate offices to discuss the impact of tax reform on the LIHTC and the need for action on our legislation (S. 548 and H.R. 1661). And, we are continuing to educate offices on the critical role of private activity bonds in anticipation that they could resurface as part of the discussion on an infrastructure bill or other tax legislation.
Also on the education front, we are working with ACTION to organize a property visit for congressional staff here in Washington D.C. As you know, seeing a property and visiting with the residents have been key to our success in maintaining the LIHTC program. Without exception, Members of Congress and staff come away from a visit with a better understanding for how the program works and the many benefits it provides for families and communities. We appreciate all that you have done to make sure that your elected officials have seen the program at work. These personal contacts made a huge difference in the recent tax reform debate — particularly with respect to protecting private activity bonds. We encourage you to continue to develop your contacts with your Members of Congress, and please let us know if we can be of assistance.