New leadership expected at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is likely to change the course of current CRA reform efforts to better achieve the Biden Administration’s goal of “expanding and strengthening CRA to ensure that our nation’s bank and non-bank financial services institutions are serving all communities.” The OCC’s CRA rule issued earlier this year, which could have major negative impacts on Housing Credit investment, is now unlikely to go into effect in 2023 as currently required. The Federal Reserve’s new CRA reform proposal may instead serve as a more likely starting point for joint regulations from the three CRA regulators, and the AHTCC will work with the three agencies towards a joint proposal that supports affordable housing investment.
We will also continue to engage with the IRS to urge for the extension of key Housing Credit deadlines, effective program regulations regarding issues like income averaging and the ability to claim credits relative to the receipt of the Low-Income Housing Credit Allocation and Certification (Form 8609), and other guidance to streamline and strengthen the Housing Credit.
The 2021 Congressional Landscape and Housing Credit Legislation
If Republicans retain control of the Senate, we will likely see a continuation of legislative gridlock, as the Senate is unlikely to be willing to provide enough funding for Democratic priorities. However, there may still be areas of compromise, considering the narrow margins in the House and Senate, especially around must-pass items that could potentially serve as vehicles for other priorities. If Democrats do gain control of the Senate in the run-off elections, substantial investments in stimulus and infrastructure legislation, including affordable housing, are likely.
To prepare for any outcomes and potential legislative vehicles, we are beginning to work with our champions in Congress immediately to plan for the reintroduction of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA) to expand and strengthen the Housing Credit, as well as to discuss potential changes to the legislation to take into account new policy needs as well as to position it as favorably as possible for advancement.
The ability to advance Housing Credit priorities will depend not only on the ability for the House, Senate and White House to compromise around broader legislation, but also the priorities of congressional leadership. With Democrats retaining leadership of the House, long-time Housing Credit champion Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA) will remain Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Housing Credit in the House of Representatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), another long-time champion of the Housing Credit, has stated her intention to remain Speaker in the next Congress. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Ways and Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) are likely to stay in their roles as well, and neither have taken a public position on the Housing Credit.
With Senate control still unknown, we do not know whether Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) or Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will take the helm as Majority Leader. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), who is a supporter of the Housing Credit and very steeped in affordable housing issues from his time leading the Senate Banking Committee, will become the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Housing Credit in the Senate. Current Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is term-limited in his role as the lead Republican. Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), a long-time affordable housing champion and a lead sponsor of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act to expand and strengthen the Housing Credit, will remain in his role as the top Democrat on the committee. To the extent there are appropriate legislative vehicles, whether Senator Crapo or Wyden chair of the Senate Finance Committee, the two may find agreement with House Ways and Means Chairman Neal and the Biden Administration around bipartisan policies from the AHCIA and other policies to strengthen the Housing Credit.
Cultivating New Housing Credit Champions and Supporters
The Democratic leads on the AHCIA, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Don Beyer (D-VA), as well as Republican leads Senator Todd Young (R-IN) and Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN), are expected to continue their roles leading on Housing Credit legislation. However, the other two Republican leads on the Housing Credit are not – Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who retired earlier in the year, and Congressman Kenny Marchant (R-TX), who did not run for reelection. The AHTCC will work with our partners in the ACTION Campaign and our supporters on Capitol Hill to solidify additional champions for the next Congress as we work quickly towards reintroducing the AHCIA.
In addition to cultivating new Housing Credit champions, we will need to educate many new members of Congress about our issues and replace many supporters. A significant number of co-sponsors, especially on the Republican side, will not be returning. Of the 11 Senate Republicans who co-sponsored the AHCIA, two lost their reelection campaigns and one retired. Of the 79 House Republicans who co-sponsored the AHCIA, 13 retired or resigned. Committee assignments will be made at the start of the new Congress, and it will be especially important to educate new members of key committees as well.
In a promising sign of the growing awareness of the need for affordable housing, several incoming members of Congress have already laid out policy goals related to affordable housing, which we will work to translate into concrete support in the next Congress. For example, incoming Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) has already called for an expansion of the Housing Credit, and that affordable housing be part of any major infrastructure package.
Learn More: AHTCC Election Impacts on Affordable Housing
On November 9, the AHTCC held a webinar on how the 2020 election may impact affordable housing policy. AHTCC leadership shared their analysis on the future of affordable housing policy. Speakers discussed the legislative agenda during the lame duck session and the next Congress, potential changes to congressional leadership, what we might expect from the Administration, and opportunities to strengthen and expand the Housing Credit.
If you weren’t able to join us and would like to view the webinar recording and access the slides, please email AHTCC Senior Policy Analyst Megan John at email@example.com. Access is free for AHTCC members. For nonmembers, the fee is $100.
If you have any questions, or would like any assistance engaging with your members of Congress, contact AHTCC Executive Director Emily Cadik at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.935.1217.
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