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August 2, 2013

RE: Transportation - Housing and Urban Development Funding Bill Stalls in Congress

Dear Mayor:

Yesterday in Washington, the Senate attempted to finish work on the FY 2014 Senate Transportation – Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) bill but was unable to muster the support of 60 Senators required to end debate on the bill.  Although this is procedurally different from what occurred in the House on Wednesday, the outcomes are similar. The T-HUD bills have now stalled indefinitely in both chambers.  Members of Congress have now headed home for the five week August recess.

While this isn’t the outcome we had hoped for in the Senate, your advocacy made a substantial positive impact on Members of Congress in at least three ways. 

  • For one, local officials changed the terms of the debate.  As local officials weighed in on the T-HUD bills over the last few weeks they exposed the weakness of the debate in Congress over budgets and spending, which had been largely conceptual and ideological, by forcing Members of Congress to confront the real impact of federal spending decisions in their own hometown, just days before returning home for the month of August. 
  • For another, our advocacy replanted the flag for CDBG funding in a way that can’t be ignored.  Dozens of Senators and Representatives in both parties took to the floor speak in favor of funding for CDBG; and the inability of the House to restore the $1.5 billion cut from CDBG, due to their austere budget caps, was a primary reason the bill failed to advance. 
  • Lastly, the inability of either chamber to move their T-HUD bills shows that there is no partisan way forward.  As House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers concluded yesterday, there doesn’t seem to be sufficient support for either an austerity budget or a budget that entirely repeals the cuts mandated by sequestration. 

Thank you for the work you put in on this effort to get the best possible outcome for local priorities in the T-HUD bill.  We hope that when Congress returns to Washington after the recess, Congressional leaders will choose a course of action that reduces uncertainty and avoids a government shutdown.

If you have the opportunity to speak with either of our U.S. Senators or your Congressman during this recess, please urge them to:

  • Support the Senate FY2014 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill funding levels and oppose any amendments that would slash funding from the Community Development Block Grant program and other HUD or DOT programs important to New Jersey municipalities.
  • Oppose any amendments that would enact new penalties against cities in financial distress that are pursuing lawful measures, including reorganization under federal bankruptcy laws, to restore fiscal stability.

If you have any questions, please contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or jmoran@njslom.com

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

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