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The changes would bring Community Development Block Grant funding more closely in line with this year’s levels, and the amount proposed in a Senate bill.
WASHINGTON — U.S. House lawmakers adopted amendments to boost funding for community development grants that go to local governments as they considered a spending package on Wednesday and Thursday for the upcoming fiscal year.
The amendments would up money for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, program by $110 million, bringing levels in the House bill for the grants up from $2.9 billion, to just over $3 billion.
President Trump had proposed eliminating CDBG funding in his fiscal year 2018 budget plan. Preserving funding for the grants has been a priority for mayors and other local leaders.
The activity with the House spending legislation came as Trump struck a deal with Democratic leaders in Congress to tie aid for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts with a three-month short-term spending measure, and an increase in the nation’s borrowing limit.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would go along with that plan, which would keep the government operating several months into the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
With the bump in funding, CDBG levels in the House legislation would be in line with those in a Senate appropriations bill that includes the program, and with the amount of money directed toward the grants in the current fiscal year.
The Community Development Block Grant measures were among a raft of amendments that House lawmakers considered as they discussed the fiscal 2018 spending package. The legislation the House is debating is a combination of eight appropriations bills.
“This is the next step in the process, but it is not the end,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen said Wednesday, in a statement about the legislation.
The two amendments raising Community Development Block Grant funding were rolled into an “en bloc” group of amendments that lawmakers passed by a voice vote.
One amendment, introduced by U.S. Rep. Steve Knight, a California Republican, moves $100 million toward the grants and reduces funding for HUD’s information technology fund by the same amount. Another directing an additional $10 million to the CDBG program was backed by U.S. Reps. Claudia Tenney of New York and Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, both Republicans.
Tenney on Thursday touted nearly $3 million in community development block grants that she said she secured for localities in her state, including roughly $1.7 million for the city of Binghamton and about another $1.1 million for the town of Union.
Community Development Block Grants offer a flexible source of funding for cities and counties.
Examples of how local governments might use the grants include sewer system upgrades and park and sidewalk improvements. The money can also go toward programs such as Meals on Wheels, which involves delivering meals to senior citizens, and initiatives to assist the homeless and victims of domestic violence.
Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.