American Rescue Plan Act Approved; Next Steps for the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act

American Rescue Plan Act Approved; Next Steps for the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act

American Rescue Plan Act Approved; Next Steps for the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act

On March 10, 2021, the House of Representatives passed the Senate version of the American Rescue Plan Act, a robust $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that is a major priority for the Biden Administration and congressional Democrats. The bill passed the House largely on a party-line vote of 220-211 with one Democrat voting against it. The bill, which passed the Senate on March 6, 2021 by a vote of 50-49, is expected to be signed by President Biden on March 12. No Republicans supported the measure in either the House or Senate.

The legislation contains — among other provisions — another round of stimulus checks for Americans; an extension and expansion of unemployment insurance benefits; an expansion of the Child Tax Credit; funding for state and local governments; and funding for testing and vaccinating. The bill also includes a number of important housing provisions including:

-$21.55 billion for the Emergency Rental Assistance program;
-$9.961 billion to establish a Homeowner Assistance Fund that would be administered by the Treasury Department;
-$5 billion for homelessness assistance and supportive services;
-$5 billion in emergency housing vouchers;
-$100 million to assist tenants living in USDA-subsidized developments;
-$750 million for housing assistance and supportive services for Native Americans;
-$100 million for housing counseling;
-$800 million to identify and provide children and youth experiencing homelessness with wrap-around services amid the pandemic.

Following the enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act, President Biden and the Congress are expected to focus on a broader economic recovery plan that is expected to incorporate a massive infrastructure package. We are working with our Hill champions and our industry partners to make sure the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA) is a part of the infrastructure conversation. To that end, we expect the AHCIA to be reintroduced soon.

As the infrastructure legislation bill is being developed, it is possible it could be a bipartisan process. President Biden and some Members of Congress have expressed hope that Democrats and Republicans could work together — but should that not occur, congressional Democrats may use the same budget reconciliation procedures that were used to move the American Rescue Plan Act.

Budget reconciliation allows the Senate to expedite and pass a bill by a simple majority instead of the 60 votes generally needed to advance legislation in the Senate. To use reconciliation, Congress must first pass a budget resolution, and there are restrictions under Senate rules on what provisions may be included. The Senate Byrd Rule (named after former Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) generally prohibits any provisions considered “extraneous” to the purpose of the reconciliation bill. Extraneous provisions are those that:

-do not produce a change in outlays or revenues;
-produce changes in outlays or revenue which are merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;
-are outside the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;
-increase outlays or decrease revenue if the provision’s title, as a whole, fails to achieve the Senate reporting committee’s reconciliation instructions;
-increase net outlays or decrease revenue during a fiscal year after the years covered by the reconciliation bill unless the provision’s title, as a whole, remains budget neutral;
-contain recommendations regarding the OASDI (social security) trust funds.

As we saw with the recent debate over raising the minimum wage in the American Rescue Plan Act, the Byrd Rule presents challenges for crafting provisions – something we are aware of as we examine the provisions in our LIHTC legislation being prepared for reintroduction.

Rep. Marcia Fudge Confirmed as HUD Secretary

In other important news for the affordable housing community, U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) was confirmed by the Senate as the next Housing and Urban Development Secretary on March 10, 2012. Rep. Fudge has been a strong supporter of affordable housing programs and the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. She was confirmed by a vote of 66-34.

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