By Thomas J. Edwards.
Don’t look for a FY 2020 spending blueprint anytime soon. And if past performance holds steady, there won’t be a carefully crafted budget period. Congress’ political divisions have drifted to far apart to arrive at any consensus.
It has now been more than two decades since Congress has been able to approve all 12 annual appropriations bills on time and this year lawmakers are well on their way to another legislative logjam and the prospect of another stopgap spending law. But one things looks certain: There will be no government shutdown as the country moves intuit a presidential election year.
As usual, HUD program managers can expect another year in FY 2020 of level spending only a notch higher than FY 2018 to account for inflation, if that.
With the 2020 election looming, another sensitive issue lurks in the background but not for long. The 10th anniversary of the Budget Control Act of 2011 is certain to become a campaign issue with the national debt — having more than doubled in the past decade — now reaching the tipping point where the total value of the nation’s assets are less than its ability to produce.
Another milestone has passed without action. Congress has again failed to adhere to its budget accountability law. Under the Budget Control Act of 1974, April 15 is the deadline for the House and Senate to adopt a mutually-agreed-upon budget ceiling for the coming spending cycle. Lawmakers allowed an 11th consecutive year pass with no on-time budget and their cavalier attitude toward the law shows it has largely become meaningless except for convenient political finger-pointing.
Congressional action on the Y 2020 budget has been all but invisible in light of the obsession with the Russian collusion investigation, Congressional staffers are going through the motions of what they describe as a normal workday routine lacking any semblance of an aggressive approach to resolving differences.
House GOP conservatives added fuel to the impasse with the unveiling of the Republican Study Committee’s recommendations for the budget. While the wishes of the far right wing of the House minority Republicans have no chance of advancing any time soon, they serve to set the tenor for arguments over the national debt and diminishing opportunities to resolve it before the county could face default.
The RSC recommendations give only lip service to HUD programs the end of the 196-page recommendation but the suggested program cuts would all but wipe out HUD’s mission. Community Development Block Grants would be eliminated along with all funding for public housing maintenance and operating funds, appropriations would be cut for the Office of Housing, and other programs would be reduced or eliminated.