Fall Congressional Preview

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Fall Congressional Preview:

The annual Federal Budget debate and the vote to lift the Federal Debt Ceiling will dominate the Congressional agenda this fall. We can expect a large part of the House budget debate to center on compromises in exchange for the defunding of the Affordable Care Act, a process that will not go anywhere. One key budget issue pertaining to landlords will be the expected increase in funding for HUD’s Private Enforcement Initiative, part of the FHIP program. This funding provides grants to eligible non-profits to conduct what amount to sting operations on landlords to ensure compliance with discrimination laws. Currently funded at approximately $46 million per year, a House amendment shifting money around internally at HUD will fund the program at $56 million in 2015.

Formerly a perfunctory vote, the Federal Debt Ceiling debate always has the potential to cause issues between Congress and the White House. The White House is firmly entrenched on the matter so it does not appear Congress has much maneuvering on this unless without resulting in larger and negative consequences for the broader economy, specifically the U.S. credit rating.

Congress is also expected to take on No Child Left Behind Reform, the non-Agricultural portion of the Farm Bill dealing with the food stamp program, and immigration reform. In every election year, Congress takes on controversial issue it knows will not be settled before November as a talking point for the election, and this year immigration reform will be that issue. The Senate has settled on a bill, but the House will likely take immigration reform on in a series of measures, most likely starting with border security and citizenship for children.

As all this is taking place, National REIA’s lobbyist in Washington will continue to work to garner support for the post-election vote on the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act. If National can convince Congress to extend this important tax break on short sale transactions, it will boost the use of the transaction and build momentum for National REIA to take on additional issues crucial to our community in 2015.

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