Freedom First Society

Issue: H.R. 267, Making appropriations for the Department of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes.  Question: On Passage.

Result:  Passed in House, 244 to 180, 9 not voting. Democrats only scored.

Freedom First Society:  In 1965, a Democratic-controlled Congress rubber-stamped President Johnson’s request and created the Housing and Urban Development Department — an obvious unconstitutional overreach by the federal government.  States and cities became increasingly dependent on Washington to resolve local issues.  To make American truly great again and protect our freedom, that overreach desperately needs to be reversed.  H.R. 267 ignores that problem while promoting a political agenda (see below).  (Also, see below for the reason we do not score the Republicans on this one.)

We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)

Bill Summary  H.R. 287, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019, is one of the 12 regular annual appropriations bills. The text is almost identical to the version passed by the Senate last September.  Click here to read the Congressional Research Services Summary.

Analysis:  H.R. 287 would fund one of the 12 regular annual appropriations bills, which includes the unconstitutional Housing and Urban Development Department.  The House Democratic Leaders proposed this particular Senate-passed version ostensibly to put pressure on (or make it easier for) the Senate to approve it.  In reality the move was designed to bolster their claim that the partial government shutdown belonged to President Trump and his demand to fund a border wall.

However, our scorecard addresses a much bigger issue — out of control unconstitutional federal spending and programs that must be reversed in order truly to make America great again and protect our freedom.  Not surprisingly, none of the speakers from either Party in the debate over H.R. 287 mentioned this issue.

A Democratic-controlled Congress created the Cabinet-level Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) in 1965, as part of President Johnson’s Great Society.  HUD would provide funds for urban renewal of cities and open the door for federal rent assistance to low-income families.

When the Department of Housing and Urban Development was created, the Arizona Republic protested:

“Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution give the federal government any control over urban affairs….

“Scarcely a week passes but some city or county department head goes from Phoenix to Washington to get the answer to a problem which, a few years ago, would have been solved in city hall or the court house.”

Norman Thomas, the Socialist Party leader, declared that he did not need to run for president in 1964, because Lyndon Johnson was carrying out his program.  Regarding the Johnson “War on Poverty” program, Thomas declared:  “I ought to rejoice and I do. I rub my eyes in amazement and surprise. His war on poverty is a Socialistic approach and may be the major issue of the 1964 campaign.”

Despite this obvious unconstitutional overreach by the federal government, there has been no attempt by subsequent Congresses to reverse it. We seek to change that.

We do not score the Republicans on this one, as many merely objected that H.R. 287 did not include the increases and supportive unconstitutional tweaks passed by the House last year.

For example, consider these arguments (in the Congressional Record) by GOP Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida), Ranking Republican on this Appropriations Subcommittee: “Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill….

“This bill is, frankly, absurd because it takes a Senate product, ignoring all — all — of the House Members’ priorities. It is jamming it through this body without a single opportunity to amend or improve or change this bill in any way.   Not one House Member has had one priority put in this bill because  there are no amendments allowed in this process.  Again, this ploy will not work. The Senate has no plans of taking up this legislation. And, again, this is deja vu all over again….

“Again, our majority is asking us, all of us here in this Chamber, to reject all of the hard work and all of the  priorities of every House Member, Republican or Democrat….

“This bill, unfortunately, falls far short on our charge to do the best  that we can with the revenue, the taxpayer money….

“Let me give you a few examples.   In our bill last year, we included $50 million in new funding for a  program that we call mobility vouchers. These vouchers are targeted at  families with children, to enable them to move to neighborhoods with greater economic opportunity, and this initiative has strong bipartisan support from the authorizers and strong support from the advocates for  the poor. The Senate bill does not include any funds, zero funds, for this program. The House also included significantly more funding for new vouchers for people with disabilities. This program helps families across the  country that struggle to take care of severely disabled relatives, and  it also serves, by the way, so many veterans with disabilities. We  provided $390 million for this program.   For tens of thousands of new vouchers, this bill before us, frankly, falls short there as well, by $236 million, and adds no new vouchers.   You see, Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that every year, when I was  chairman, I also worked to ensure that there was adequate funding for Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, or HOPWA.This program has  a record of saving lives, reducing disease transmissions, and  protecting communities. I am so proud of that. We provided $393 million  in our bill to ensure that there was no reduction, no cut to housing  services for this vulnerable population.   The Senate, unfortunately, again, falls severely short, $375 million.  This will result in 1,700 people losing their housing, which will put  communities at risk….

This is an area the Senate was counting on the House to fix, to fix their low  funding levels. But, you see, Mr. Speaker, we don’t have the  opportunity because of this stunt that we are witnessing here today.   Finally, we included $150 million for Choice Neighborhoods, which is  a program that provides much-needed neighborhood rehabilitation — revitalization grants, I should say. This has such strong bipartisan  support in the House. The Senate did not prioritize it as much as we  did, and they only provided $100 million.   So I look forward to advancing a bill that protects this, all of  these issues, and other important priorities for our House Members.”

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