Lawmakers Stave Off Shutdown but Still Face Daunting List of Tasks
On Sept. 30, President Joe Biden signed into law a funding package that prevented a government shutdown as federal fiscal year (FY) 2022 began Oct. 1. The continuing resolution (CR) funds federal agencies at current FY 2021 levels through Dec. 3, leaving lawmakers nine additional weeks to agree on spending levels and negotiate the dozen FY 2022 appropriations bills. Also included in the CR are billions in funding for disaster relief and Afghan refugees. The bill also extends through Dec. 3 the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program and the increased federal medical assistance percentage for territories.
On Saturday, the president signed into law a 30-day extension of surface transportation programs, which had expired the prior day, leading to a temporary lapse in authorization for many federal surface transportation programs and the furlough of 4,000 staff from the Federal Highway and Transit administrations. While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi set the end of October as the new deadline for the House to act on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, additional extensions are likely given the current uncertainty regarding the reconciliation bill. The Congressional Budget Act permits using reconciliation for legislation that changes spending, revenues and the federal debt limit. On the spending side, reconciliation has historically been used to address “mandatory” or entitlement spending, though there’s nothing in the budget act or other rules that prohibits providing or rescinding funding, for “discretionary” or annual appropriations, through reconciliation.
This week the Senate will consider S. 1301, the House-passed legislation suspending the debt ceiling, hoping to avoid the Oct.18 “X day” deadline when the U.S. would begin defaulting on its sovereign debt. The Treasury Department has been operating under “extraordinary measures” since Aug. 1 to manage the outstanding debt, which currently stands at $28.5 trillion.
DHS Proposes Changes to Existing DACA Policy Following District Court Ruling
On Sept. 28, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. Since June 2012, DACA has protected 825,000 undocumented childhood arrivals from deportation. This July, the Southern District of Texas ruled the DACA program was “illegal” and violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952. While the DHS has appealed that decision, it has also proposed changes to attempt to preserve DACA and reconcile it with existing law. The rulemaking notice clarifies that deferred action granted under DACA would make a DACA recipient “lawfully present” for purposes of the immigration act, but does not give the DACA recipient authorization to stay in the U.S. The new policy would also automatically terminate a DACA recipient’s work authorization upon termination of the DACA recipient's grant of deferred action. The proposed rule change would keep the existing eligibility requirements and keep total application fees at $495. The comment period is open through Nov. 29, 2021. Comments must be submitted online through the Federal Rulemaking Portal. Read more.
Department of Housing and Urban Development Extends COVID-Related HOME Waivers and Extensions
On Sept. 28, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released a memorandum that extends and revises several suspensions and waivers of HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) regulations that the department previously issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the memo extends HUD’s wavier of:
- The HOME program matching requirement so it now applies to funds participating jurisdictions receive in fiscal year 2022.
- The HOME program’s per-unit subsidy limit so that it will apply to all new projects underway, or funds currently committed through March 2022.
- On-site inspection requirements for HOME-assisted properties and for entities receiving HOME-funded tenant-based rental assistance through the end of 2021, with a time extension from 120 to 180 days for jurisdictions to conduct inspections after the waiver expires.
The memo also extends the suspensions of the four-year project completion deadline and time frame for a jurisdiction to respond to findings of noncompliance through March 2022. All COVID-related HOME waivers and suspensions not mentioned in the memo will expire at the end of the month.
The HOME program is designed to create affordable housing options for low-income households by providing formula grants to states and localities to fund a wide range of activities, including buying, building or rehabilitating affordable housing for rent or homeownership as well as providing direct rental assistance. The program’s flexibility allows states and local governments to use HOME funds for grants, direct loans, loan guarantees or other forms of credit enhancements, rental assistance or security deposits. Read more.
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NCSL's Advocacy in Washington
NCSL’s Washington staff advocates on behalf of state legislatures before Congress, the White House and federal agencies in accord with the policy directives and resolutions that are recommended by the NCSL Standing Committees and adopted by the full conference at the annual NCSL Legislative Summit Business Meeting. As a result of the advocacy that is guided by these policy positions, NCSL is recognized as a formidable lobbying force in state-federal relations.
NCSL Staff in Washington, D.C.
- Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | Director
- Erlinda Doherty | 202-624-8698 | Budgets and Revenue
- Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
- Abbie Gruwell 202-624-3569 | Commerce and Financial Services
- Ben Husch | 202-624-7779 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure
- Kristen Hildreth | 202-624-3597 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure
- Jon Jukuri | 202-624-8663 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
- Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education