On March 15, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package that will keep the government running and funded through Sept. 30. Since last October, the government has relied on a series of short-term funding extensions while Congress worked toward this long-term solution. The trillion-dollar package, approved by the House March 9 and Senate March 10, includes defense funding ($782 billion; a $42 billion increase over FY 2021) and non-defense funding ($730 billion; a $46 billion increase over FY 2021). It provides for nearly $14 billion in support for Ukraine.
The $1.5 trillion bipartisan bill funds the government through the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 and contains many NAR advocacy priorities, including flood insurance, affordable housing, and transportation.
“This bill is significant for President Biden because the U.S. has been operating under continuing resolutions that funded the government based on spending levels set by the previous administration and Congress,” says Shannon McGahn, chief advocacy officer for NAR. “It is the president’s first big spending deal that will guide his priorities in the coming years.”
“Annual spending bills are the bread and butter of our advocacy operation,” McGahn continues. “This measure contains all 12 appropriations bills that fund the government rolled into one package. We work throughout the year to ensure provisions important to the housing sector get the attention they deserve during this process.”
Notably, the bipartisan package includes a number of NAR priorities including:
Fair housing: Contains $85 million for fair housing activities, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program, Fair Housing Assistance Program, the National Fair Housing Training Academy, and translating HUD documents into languages other than English. This level represents an increase of $12.5 million above the FY 2021 enacted level.
Flood insurance: Extends the NFIP through Sept. 30 and provides significant funding for communities to respond to and mitigate the impacts of future disasters, with $276 million for flood mapping.
Affordable Housing: The bill provides $398 million for related agencies in the bill, including $166 million for NeighborWorks to support unique solutions to expand affordable housing options, increase housing counseling assistance, and strengthen economic development.
Rural Housing Loans and Rental Assistance: The bill provides a total of $30 billion in loan authority for the Single-Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program. The bill includes $1.25 billion in direct single family housing loans, which provide home loan assistance to low-income rural families. In addition, a total of $1.495 billion is provided for rental assistance and rental vouchers for affordable rental housing for low-income families and the elderly in rural communities to renew all existing rental assistance contracts. In FY 2020, Rural Development housing programs provided affordable housing to 138,331 rural homeowners and over 250,000 rental units.
HUD and Rental Assistance: For fiscal year 2022, the bill provides a total of $53.7 billion for HUD, an increase of $4 billion above fiscal year 2021. Also includes $27.4 billion for Tenant-based Rental Assistance to continue to serve more than 2.3 million very low- and extremely low-income households nationwide. Has $1.5 billion in direct funding to states and local governments through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, and significantly increases investments in distressed neighborhoods through the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative program.
Violence Against Women Act: Reauthorizes this legislation and establishes a Violence Prevention Office at HUD. NAR was part of the original group of housing industry supporters that helped craft the housing provisions of the bill.
Housing Counseling: $57.5 million for Housing Counseling assistance for renters, homeowners, and those considering homeownership and $145.4 million for Policy Development and Research, including $20 million to continue legal aid assistance for eviction prevention, a combined increase of $40.4 million above fiscal year 2021.
EB-5 Regional Center Program: Revives the EB-5 Visa Regional Center Program, with reforms that would address many of the accountability and transparency issues that has plagued the program previously. The EB-5 visa program awards permanent residence for non-U.S. citizens who invest a specified amount in distressed places in the United States, particularly high-unemployment urban areas or blighted rural areas. The program lapsed in mid-2021 and is slated for renewal through September 2027.
Homeless Assistance Programs: Includes $2.2 billion, an increase of $246 million above the 2021 enacted level and equal to the President’s budget request. This funding will enhance VA’s ability to reach homeless Veterans.
Broadband: Includes more than $550 million to expand rural broadband services on top of broadband funding included in the American Rescue Plan and bipartisan infrastructure bill last year.
Fraud: Directs the Federal Trade Commission to oversee efforts to protect seniors from fraud schemes and creates an advisory group to promote best practices to curb scammers. The bill includes $376.5 million for the FTC, an increase of $25.5 million above the FY 2021 enacted level.
Anti-money Laundering: Provides $161 million for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an increase of $34 million above the FY 2021 enacted level, to boost efforts to combat terrorist financing and money laundering. Also includes $195 million for the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, an increase of $20 million above the FY 2021 enacted level, to continue investments to protect the integrity of the financial system.
LIBOR Transition: Includes language that helps companies and lenders switch financial contracts to a new rate and away from the London Interbank Offered Rate. This language ensures a smooth transition to the new reference rate on legacy contracts and avoids disruption to the secondary mortgage markets.
Transportation & Infrastructure: Provides the remaining funding to implement programs and spending in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, which was passed in November. Provides more than $10 billion to upgrade the nation’s water infrastructure.
Small Business Administration (SBA): The bill provides a total of $1 billion for SBA, an increase of $109 million above the FY 2021 enacted level, to support investments in programs to help underserved entrepreneurs access capital and contracting opportunities. The bill includes $290 million, an increase of $18 million above the FY 2021 enacted level, for Entrepreneurial Development Programs, including: $138 million for Small Business Development Centers; $37 million for Microloan Technical Assistance; $17 million for the Federal and State Technology Partnership Program, Growth Accelerators, and Regional Innovation Clusters; and $24 million for Women’s Business Centers.
Environmental Protections: Includes $587 million for conservation programs, $539 million for environmental monitoring projects, $200 million for climate research, $3.2 billion to support renewable energy technologies, and an increase in the annual budgets for under-resourced agencies like the EPA, NOAA, the Department of Interior, and the Bureau of Land Management.