Join us for a call this Friday, March 31, at 2 p.m. EDT, to discuss new Housing Credit legislation and the latest developments on tax reform.
Friday, March 31 @ 2:00 p.m. EDT
Participant code: 677-49-533#
Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act Introduced in Senate and House
On March 7, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 548), a comprehensive bill to expand and strengthen the Housing Credit.
S. 548 would increase Housing Credit authority by 50 percent, taking a meaningful step towards addressing our nation’s vast and growing affordable housing needs. The Bipartisan Policy Center recently reaffirmed its endorsement of a 50 percent expansion, calling the Housing Credit “the nation’s most successful rental production program, with a 30-year track record.” The legislation would also enact roughly two dozen provisions to strengthen the Housing Credit, similar to the comprehensive version of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 3237) introduced by Senators Cantwell and Hatch in 2016, with minor modifications. The legislation currently has 15 bipartisan co-sponsors.
On March 27, Representative Pat Tiberi (R-OH-12) and Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA-1) introduced companion legislation, H.R. 1661. The legislation currently has 22 bipartisan co-sponsors. The primary difference between the House and Senate bills is that the House bill does not include the 50 percent phased-in Housing Credit cap increase that is part of the Senate bill. However, it takes significant steps to strengthen the Housing Credit, and ACTION fully endorses this critical legislation. ACTION will also continue to encourage the inclusion of a cap increase in any final tax legislation that advances through Congress.
The ACTION Campaign thanks Senators Cantwell and Hatch, Representatives Tiberi and Neal, and the other original co-sponsors of both S. 548 and H.R. 1661 for their leadership and support of the Housing Credit. With tax reform likely to move forward in 2017, these strong bipartisan expressions of support for the Housing Credit are extremely significant. More than 2,000 organizations and businesses signed a letter in support of S. 548, and we will soon be circulating another sign-on letter in support of H.R. 1661.
We encourage all ACTION Campaign members to reach out to your members of Congress to support these bills if they have not already. Visit the ACTION Campaign’s Advocacy Toolkit for bill summaries, bill text, “Dear Colleague” letters, sample letters to members of Congress requesting co-sponsorship, and more.
Tax Reform Discussions Accelerate
The impasse over healthcare legislation has increased the pressure on the Trump Administration and Congress to achieve a major legislative victory through tax reform. While the House is continuing to develop draft legislation based on Speaker Ryan’s tax reform blueprint released last summer, House leadership is still working to gain consensus among the Republican caucus for the primary revenue raising proposal, a destination-based tax system intended to encourage manufacturing known as “border adjustment.” Several Republican Senators have publicly criticized the proposal, suggesting that even if it advances through the House it may be a non-starter in the Senate. Further complicating tax reform discussions is the fact that it will be more difficult for tax reform to be revenue neutral without the elimination of $1 trillion of Affordable Care Act taxes and associated federal spending that would have been achieved through the House’s healthcare reform proposal.
Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has indicated that it plans to be more involved in tax reform negotiations than it was in healthcare reform. “Obviously, we’re driving the train on [tax reform],” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said this week. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has also repeated his call to have tax reform signed into law by August. While the Administration has not yet released a tax reform plan, it is expected in the coming weeks, and may include significant changes from the House proposal.
The potential for these and further disagreements over tax reform have cast doubt on whether Congress will be able to pass legislation as comprehensive as originally intended, or whether it will instead turn to tax cuts without overhauling the tax code. However, comprehensive tax reform proposals are still very likely to emerge as part of this process, and it is incumbent on Housing Credit stakeholders to urge that the Housing Credit and Housing Bonds be preserved, strengthened and expanded in any proposal.