05.20.16

Senate Votes On A Proposal From Senator Lankford’s “Federal Fumbles” Report

Senators Attempt to Prevent HUD From Usurping Decision-Making Authority of Local Communities

WASHINGTON, DC – The Senate voted Thursday on a proposal to defund a burdensome Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) “Fair Housing” regulation that was identified in Senator Lankford’s “Federal Fumbles” report as an example of government waste. Although the regulation’s intent of diversifying neighborhoods is worthy, it would place stringent requirements on local municipalities by federal bureaucrats and usurp the decision-making authority of local communities.

In August 2015, the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” regulation was put forth by HUD to increase diversity in American neighborhoods and reduce housing discrimination. The 377-page rule would require communities to develop plans to address social segregation and submit their plans to HUD. The federal government would possibly withhold funding if the community’s plan did not meet HUD’s preference.

An amendment (#3897) to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2577), offered by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), would have defunded the HUD “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” regulation. It failed, on Thursday, by a vote of 37 to 60, however, the Senate adopted a milder reform, offered as an amendment (#3970) by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), which will prevent HUD from directly dictating local housing and zoning regulations.

Lankford noted in the “Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways The Government Dropped The Ball” report (page 105), “Discrimination in neighborhoods, either in the ownership or rental market, is unacceptable. Under the Fair Housing Act, HUD has authority to address and fight it. HUD should and does use that authority because discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability is illegal. But new regulations that make a federal housing agency the ultimate arbiter of neighborhood design and tie federal funding to specific plans directly contradict what many communities want for the future. With unique and valuable histories, local communities and states understand the needs of their residents better than the federal government. Sweeping federal regulations inhibit flexibility that states say they need to end housing discrimination. In addition to forcing misguided federal central planning on American towns and cities, HUD estimates the rule will cost 1,250 local governments a total of $25 million in compliance costs each year. If left unchecked, the regulation will grant the federal government colossal power over states and localities. Families know best where they want to raise their children. This is not a decision the federal government should attempt to make.”

Last week, the Senate passed another one of Lankford’s “Federal Fumbles” proposals (page 94), when they voted to direct the National Nuclear Security Administration to perform routine assessments of project performance. Lankford has also introduced several bills and amendments to enact other “Federal Fumbles” proposals, including a bill to terminate the wasteful Essential Air Service program.

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