Republicans Say "No" to Affordable Housing and Community Development

Mar 15 2006

Murray Amendment to Rehabilitate Communities Defeated on Party-Line Vote

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – For the second time in two days, the majority party in the United States Senate chose to support symbolic gestures as opposed to real funding offered by Senator Patty Murray for vulnerable communities in Washington state and across America. One day after defeating Murray’s proposal to boost federal funding for veterans health care, Senate Republicans voted 53-45 to kill her effort to restore $1 billion in cuts to the Community Development Block Grant program.

"Across the nation, mayors and community leaders are up in arms about this budget’s misguided billion dollar cut to CDBG. It’s disappointing that their pleas meant nothing to Senate Republicans," Senator Murray said. "CDBG provides the critical seed money to bring our communities back up to standard, provide safe, affordable housing, and create jobs and economic development in underserved neighborhoods. Robbing our communities of these funds right now – when our country is trying to get back on its feet – is the wrong thing to do."

The Community Development Block Grant program provides federal grants to expand and rehabilitate affordable housing, improve public facilities such as streets and parks, and provide assistance to the homeless. It is a program critical to local communities as they work to reinvigorate underserved areas and increase jobs and economic growth.

Instead of voting for Senator Murray’s amendment that would have added $1.3 billion to the budget for CDBG formula grants by closing tax loopholes, Senate Republicans today supported a symbolic amendment introduced by Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Norm Coleman (R-MN).

The Santorum-Coleman amendment provides no actual money to the CDBG program.

Murray, who is the highest ranking Democrat on the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, which allocates CDBG spending, called the Santorum-Coleman amendment a "Don’t-Worry-Be-Happy-Until-After-the-Election" amendment.

"I voted against this sham amendment because I refuse to give false hope to the millions of Americans who are trying to put a roof over their head," Murray said. "This amendment does nothing to help our country’s mayors and community development organizations expand affordable housing or bring new economic opportunities to their communities. Unfortunately, the Republican Senate put political ploys and corporate tax giveaways above local communities today."

"Whether it’s CDBG, veterans or port security, Senate Republicans keeps saying that they are providing funding out of function 920. Well, the devil is in the details and there is simply no money there. In fact, function 920 is a half billion dollars in the hole. The only thing that Republicans can make with fake money is false promises," Murray said.