A White House veto threat has killed chances for passage of a major housing and community development bill this year, House and Senate members said yesterday.
After negotiations broke down on a measure that would be acceptable to Congress and the adminstration, housing and urban affairs subcommittee Chairman Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) said "there's no deal for this year."
The bill contains a permanent extension of the Federal Housing Administration's home mortgage insuring authority, which expired yesterday, but the House and Senate were expected to quickly pass temporary extensions of the popular program.
House members were willing to talk about a compromise measure proposed by the Senate Tuesday, but balked at additional changes demanded yesterday by Office of Management and Budget officials in return for assurance the president would sign the bill, according to Rep. Fernand J. St Germain (D-R.I.), chairman of the House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs.
"We don't feel the Senate has negotiated in good faith with the House," St Germain said. "We therefore stated we certainly could not accept the package the Senate and administration and HUD put together" yesterday.
House and Senate conferees agreed in late October on a bill authorizing $30.6 billion for the next two years for housing and community development, holding spending on most programs at current levels. The measure was passed in the House by 391 to 1 but stalled in the Senate when several Republican senators raised a procedural objection. Supporters could not get the 60 votes needed to waive a budget ceiling, which the legislation exceeded by $47 million.
Senate Democrats and Republicans then agreed on a compromise bill and hoped to send it to the Senate for a vote yesterday. Supporters held up the measure when OMB and Department of Housing and Urban Development representatives asked for further cuts. The OMB-HUD plan reduced spending for fiscal 1988 to $14.85 billion, down from $15 billion agreed to by the House and Senate Democrats.
White House representatives asked for elimination of the housing development action grant program, which has strong support in the House and would get $75 million each year in 1988 and 1989 under the measure agreed to by the conference committee, and cuts in other programs.
The administration also wants to expand the use of housing vouchers in fiscal 1989, increasing the numbers used for low-income rural residents and for other low-income families. The five-year vouchers are favored by the White House over the current 15-year certificates as a way of providing rental assistance to poor people.
The measure that emerged from the Senate and House conference committee in October provided $7.5 billion for low-income housing assistance, $3 billion for community development action grants, $225 million for urban development action grants, $1.6 billion for public housing operating subsidies and about $2 billion for rural housing, enough for about 88,500 units.
It also authorized funds for housing low- and moderate-income families displaced when their homes are demolished or converted because of the two development grant programs. Other portions of the bill provided ways to prevent the loss of privately owned, federally subsidized low-income housing. More than 900,000 such units are in danger of being lost over the next decade as regulatory restraints ensuring their use as low- and moderate-income housing expire, supporters of the measure said.