Congress is getting closer to finally having a comprehensive spending plan in place for FY 2014- yesterday, the House approved the omnibus by 359-67. While the House was debating the larger omnibus package, the Senate approved a three-day continuing resolution that will keep the government running after midnight on Wednesday, when the original continuing resolution was set to expire. The omnibus package will now move to the Senate, which is expected to began debate on the bill today and should hold a final vote on Friday. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Senate is expected to easily pass the bill.
NAHRO issued a statement to the House before their final vote, urging them to approve the measure. The message also included a reminder to legislators that this spending bill did not do enough to address the growing need for housing and community development in this country and that an increase in funding is necessary in FY 2015. We issued a similar message to the Senate this morning.
And, unfortunately, the ink will barely dry on the bill before the fight for FY 2015 begins. Those of us who have experienced the chaos of looking forward to an upcoming fiscal year while still focusing on the battle of the current year (ahem- FY 2011 and FY 2012) are grateful that FY 2014 is wrapping up before the FY 2015 “’season” begins. But, we really have no time to relax this year as we need to begin gearing up for FY 2015 now.
Before we look forward, let’s take a minute to reflect on the successes of FY 2014. Just three months ago, the federal government was entering into the 16th day of a shutdown. Now, we have a budget resolution that offsets part of sequestration and every single appropriations bill was just approved by the House. That bears repeating- we’ve come all the way from the third longest government shutdown ever when Congress was unwilling to consider even a short-term CR to reopen the government to the passage in the House of a 12 bill omnibus spending package in just three months. I’m frequently asked to predict what I think Congress will do and it never occurred to me that they would be able to pull any of this off. It’s simply amazing.
NAHRO members deserve some credit for this. Though the bulk of the work to reopen the government, negotiate a budget deal, and craft all 12 appropriations bills happened in high-level negotiations between Congressional leadership, it was the constant feedback from constituents like you that finally pushed these deals through. Legislators were hearing over and over that the government shutdown was hurting their communities, that maintaining the funding status quo would be harmful, and that more funding is needed for housing and community development programs. It was NAHRO members’ communications with their legislators helped to get us a budget that brings funding increases for many of the housing and community development programs that NAHRO members administer. Though a wide-range of NAHRO’s membership is very active with their advocacy efforts, NAHRO’s Legislative Network did much of the heavy-lifting on this, particularly throughout the past three months, and NAHRO is extremely grateful for them and all of their hard work.
I also want to mention NAHRO’s partners in Washington, particularly the Campaign for Housing and Community Development. NAHRO works closely with CHCDF as a member of their steering committee, but we are just one of several organizations with dedicated and passionate staff who also fight for the future of housing and community development programs. Their help coordinating messages, planning Hill meetings, and sharing intelligence makes our jobs much, much easier.
So, on we move to FY 2015. The President will kick off the season with his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, January 28th, outlining his priorities and goals for the year. Shortly after in February or March, President Obama’s FY 2015 budget proposal will be unveiled, providing specific funding recommendations for the plans outlined in his STOU and for all federal programs.