This week in Congress Update two: Zika and HUD

The House of Representatives is considering legislation making emergency appropriations to deal with the Zika virus.While the notion that the best way to deal with a health care crisis is to increase government power is debatable, at least the House tried to be somewhat responsible by offsetting the new spending.

In contrast,yesterday the Senate passed an amendment to the Treasury-HUD appropriations bill (known on the hill as T-HUD) providing $1.1 Billion in new "emergency" funding for Zika. Sine the funding is "emergency" it does not need to be offset. Even worse, right before passing this amendment, the Senate rejected an amendment that would have paid for the Zikada funding.

Roll-call vote on the amendment providing $1,1 billion in new spending for Zika  prevention here.

Senator Mike Lee will offer an amendment to the T-HUD apropos bill denying funds to the Obama Administration's " Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing"  program. This program gives HUD bureaucrats new powers to act as a national zoning board.

Under the program, if HUD determines that a neighborhood is not "diverse"enough,HUD can take actions to use federal funds to promote certain types of development, discourage others, and pressure private businesses to fund the development desired by the bureaucrats.

As Senator Lee explained:

And yet the Obama administration wants to make this problem even worse by implementing its “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule, which was issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development last year. According to department officials, this rule is needed because “increasing a neighborhood’s appeal to families with different income and ethnic profiles can encourage a more diversified population and reduce isolation.”

In other words, this new regulation is designed to give unelected, anonymous bureaucrats in Washington the power to pick and choose who your new next-door neighbor will be. If they don’t believe your neighborhood is “diverse” enough, they will seize control of local zoning decisions—choosing what should be built, where, and who should pay for it—in order to make your neighborhood look more like they want it to.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has this power because far too many communities have become accustomed to relying on the Community Development Block Grant program, which gives federal dollars to local communities for projects designed to reduce poverty and housing segregation.

But a recent study by the Reason Foundation demonstrated that while the Community Development Block Grant program has been a boon for special interests and channeling taxpayer dollars to politically connected groups, it has been entirely unsuccessful in actually reducing poverty or housing segregation.

The so-called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule would only continue the Community Development Block Grant program’s well-established track record of failure.

Instead of helping all American families by lowering housing costs, the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule would only add yet another layer of bureaucratic red tape on developers, making it less likely—not more—that they will find it worthwhile to build more housing units.

This week, the Senate will have a chance to fight back against this misguided power grab, by adopting an amendment to this year’s Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill that would prohibit Department of Housing and Urban Development officials from spending any money to implement the new rule.

Americans are indeed suffering from high housing prices. But the answer is not a top-down national zoning board in Washington.

More information available on the bill here.

Campaign for Liberty members who oppose allowing HUD to act as a national zoning board should call their Senators and tell them to support the Lee amendment to the Treasury-HUD appropriations bill.

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Tags: , , ,