Fw: CCC Policy Alert # 126

H. C. Covington (ach1@sprynet.com)
Fri, 5 Jun 1998 22:06:11 -0500


-----Original Message-----
Date: Friday, June 05, 1998 5:31 PM
Subject: CCC Policy Alert # 126




Center for Community Change              Policy Alert # 126     June 8,
1998

Senate HUD/VA Appropriations Mark-Up This Week
More Than 30 Senators Oppose Weakening Of Targeting Provisions In Senate
Public Housing Bill
House Finally Votes To Partially Restore Food Stamps For Legal
Immigrants
Transportation Bill Awaits President's Signature; Focus Shifts To
Funding For Access To Jobs Program
Important Bills To Watch Out For In The Next Few Weeks...

Note: To receive a document from our Fax on Demand service, dial
703/716-7349 and follow the automated instructions. If you did not
receive your fax, received an incomplete fax, or if you experience
technical difficulties, dial 703/716-0600 to speak to a person. To
receive back alerts, or an index of documents, request document #500
from the automated system.

SENATE HUD/VA APPROPRIATIONS MARK-UP THIS WEEK

BACKGROUND: Despite the fact that Congress has not yet adopted a Budget
Resolution, the appropriators have decided to move ahead with their
spending bills.  The Senate HUD/VA Subcommittee will mark-up their FY
'99 appropriations bill this Tuesday, June 9, and the full Senate
Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up the bill on June 11.
The House HUD/VA Subcommittee will take action on June 18, and the full
committee will consider the bill on June 25.

While rumors are flying about the content of the Senate bill,
Appropriations Committee staff are very tight lipped.  Whereas House
Appropriations staff have shown receptivity to new or 'incremental'
Section 8 vouchers--a top HUD priority-Senate staffers have not warmed
to the plan, and are concerned about the cost in outlays in future
years.  (Outlays are what the government actually spends over time, vs.
budget authority, which is what the government is authorized to spend in
a given year.)  Senate staff prefer generic vouchers to vouchers that
are earmarked for specific uses, such as welfare-to-work or the
homeless.

Another area of concern to advocates is the question of whether
$2.3 billion that was taken from HUD in the current fiscal year (FY '98)
to pay for disaster relief will be restored in FY '99.  House
Appropriations staff have assured advocates that the HUD/VA Subcommittee
allocation does include those funds. Senate staff have not offered any
clear assurances.  In fact, there is apparently discussion of rescinding
even more Section 8 reserve money.

ACTION NEEDED: Call and write your Members of Congress and urge them to
support the President's request for $25 billion for HUD in FY '99.  This
means also supporting restoration of the $2.3 billion that Congress took
from Section 8 reserves for disaster relief.   If that money is not put
back, other HUD programs will have to be cut in order to renew all
Section 8 contracts.  In addition, urge support for:

* 100,000 new Section 8 vouchers;

* an end to the three-month delay in reissuing existing Section 8
vouchers when they are turned in;

* full funding for public housing operating and modernization;

* increase in homeless assistance from $823 million to $958 million.

SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES ON THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEES SHOULD BE
TARGETED IMMEDIATELY, but all other Congress members also need to hear
from constituents about the importance of HUD dollars in their
communities.

Senate Appropriations Committee (* = on HUD/VA subcommittee):
Republicans: Stevens [AK], Chairman*, Cochran [MS], Specter [PA],
Domenici [NM], Bond [MO]*(Subcmte Chair), Gorton [WA], McConnell [KY],
Burns [MT]*, Shelby [AL]*, Gregg [NH], Bennett [UT], Campbell [CO]*,
Craig [ID]*, Faircloth [NC], Hutchison [TX]
Democrats: Byrd [WV], Inouye [HI], Hollings [SC], Leahy [VT]*, Bumpers
[AR], Lautenberg [NJ]*, Harkin [IA]*, Mikulski [MD]*, Reid [NV], Kohl
[WI], Murray [WA], Dorgan [ND], Boxer [CA]*

House Appropriations Committee (* = on HUD/VA subcommittee):
Republicans: Livingston [LA], Chairman, McDade [PA], Young [FL], Regula
[OH], Lewis [CA] (Subcmte Chair)*, Porter [IL], Rogers [KY], Skeen [NM],
Wolf [VA], DeLay [TX]*, Kolbe [AZ], Packard [CA], Callahan [AL], Walsh
[NY]*, Taylor [NC], Hobson [OH]*,  Istook [OK], Bonilla [TX],
Knollenberg [MI]*, Miller [FL], Dickey [AR], Kingston [GA], Parker [MS],
Frelinghuysen [NJ]*, Wicker [MS]*, Forbes [NY], Nethercutt [WA], Neumann
[WI]*, Cunningham [CA], Tiahrt [KS], Wamp [TN], Latham [IA], Northup
[KY], Aderholt [AL]
Democrats: Obey [WI], Yates [IL], Stokes [OH]*, Murtha [PA], Dicks [WA],
Sabo [MN], Dixon [CA], Fazio [CA], Hefner [NC], Hoyer [MD], Mollohan
[WV]*, Kaptur [OH]*, Skaggs [CO], Pelosi [CA], Visclosky [IN], Torres
[CA], Lowey [NY], Serrano [NY], DeLauro [CT], Moran [VA], Olver [MA],
Pastor [AZ], Meek [FL]*, Price [NC]*, Edwards [TX], Cramer [AL]

MATERIALS AVAILABLE: HUD has prepared a chart for each Congressional
District and State that contains information on how much money is going
to that state or CD for selected HUD programs in FY '98, and how much is
projected for FY '99.  We have made available through Fax on Demand the
charts of all Senate and House HUD/VA Subcommittee members.  Each chart
includes a copy of the background sheet that explains the charts.  If
you discuss or give any charts to members of Congress, make sure to
include the background sheet with it.

To receive the chart for the following Congress members, dial
703/716-7349 and follow the automated instructions.  Request the
document # listed next to your Senator/Rep's name. We hope that soon all
the charts will be available electronically.

House: Lewis, CA (1210); Delay, TX (1211); Walsh, NY (1212); Hobson, OH
(1213); Knollenberg, MI (1214); Frelinghusun, NJ (1215); Neumann, WI
(1216); Wicker, MS (1217); Stokes, OH (1218); Mollohan, WV (1219);
Kaptur, OH (1220); Meek, FL(1221); Price, NC (3001).

Senate: Bond, MO (3002); Burns, MT (3003); Stevens, AK (3004); Shelby,
AL (3005) Campbell, CO (3006); Craig, ID (1180); Mikulski, MD (1183);
Leahy, VT (1175); Lautenberg, NJ (1176); Harkin, IA (1207); Boxer, CA
(1231).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Ranghelli at 202/342-0567,
ranghellil@commchange.org


MORE THAN 30 SENATORS OPPOSE WEAKENING OF TARGETING PROVISIONS IN SENATE
PUBLIC HOUSING BILL

BACKGROUND: A letter was sent to Banking Committee Chair D'Amato from
more than 30 Senators Friday, urging him to hold firm to the Senate
income targeting provisions in S. 462, the bill to overhaul public
housing and the voucher rental assistance program.  While both the House
and Senate would allow more income-mixing in public housing and in the
tenant-based Section 8 program, HR 2 is the more extreme of the two
bills.  The letter to D'Amato calls on him, at a minimum, to stick to
the Senate provisions, and to oppose fungibility.  Fungibility is a
House provision that would allow PHAs to let even a greater number of
moderate-income households into public housing if the same number of
lower income households were given Section 8 vouchers.

The status of the bills has not changed and their fate remains
uncertain.  On the one hand, Senate and House Housing Subcommittee
Chairs Mack and Lazio have tentatively come to an agreement on
targeting, home rule, and other controversial items.  On the other hand,
as the number of legislative days left on the calendar dwindles, the
odds of completing work this year diminish.

ACTION NEEDED: A conference committee could move forward at any time, so
advocates must remain vigilant, and continue to educate their Congress
members about the potential harm to residents in these two bills.

Please thank Senator Chafee [R-RI] for his leadership role on the letter
to D'Amato, as well as the other co-sponsors, Jeffords [R-VT], Moynihan
[D-NY], and Wellstone [D-MN].

The following Senators, who signed-on to the letter, should also be
thanked: Bumpers [D-AR], Bingaman [D-NM], Leahy [D-VT], Akaka [D-HI],
Inouye [D-HI], Landrieu [D-LA], Breaux [D-LA], Cleland [D-GA], Dodd
[D-CT], Lieberman [D-CT], Durbin [D-IL], Moseley-Braun [D-IL], Feingold
[D-WI], Kohl [D-WI], Reed [D-RI], Santorum [R-PA], Specter [R-PA], Robb
[D-VA], Kennedy [D-MA], Kerry [D-MA], Wyden [D-OR], Levin [D-MI],
Collins [R-ME], Snowe [R-ME], Sarbanes [D-MD], Glenn [D-OH], Feinstein
[D-CA], Boxer [D-CA], Murray [D-WA], Lautenberg [D-NJ], Torricelli
[D-NJ].

In next week's alert we will list any other last minute signatories.
Thanks to everyone who contacted their senators and urged them to
sign-on to the letter!

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Ranghelli at 202/342-0567,
ranghellil@commchange.org


HOUSE FINALLY VOTES TO PARTIALLY RESTORE FOOD STAMPS FOR LEGAL
IMMIGRANTS

BACKGROUND: On June 4 the House of Representatives passed the
Agriculture Research bill (S 1150), which contains provisions that will
restore Food Stamps benefits to roughly 30 percent of immigrants who
lost benefits under the welfare 'reform' law that was enacted in August
1996.  The bill was approved by an overwhelming margin of 364-50, and
has already passed the Senate.  Once signed by the President, the law
will make certain immigrants eligible for Food Stamps effective November
1, 1998.

Legal immigrants who will become eligible again for benefits
include: disabled, elderly, children, certain Native Americans, and
Hmong veterans.  Also, refugees and asylees will have their eligibility
extended from 5 to 7 years after entry into the country. This victory
for anti-poverty and immigrant advocacy groups is a testimony to the
power of effective grassroots activism.  Inside the beltway sentiment
early on was that this legislation would never pass, but the powerful
stories of hardship being experienced by tens of thousands of people
turned around the debate.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Ranghelli at 202/342-0567,
ranghellil@commchange.org


TRANSPORTATION BILL AWAITS PRESIDENT'S SIGNATURE; FOCUS SHIFTS TO
FUNDING FOR ACCESS TO JOBS PROGRAM

BACKGROUND: As expected, before recessing for Memorial Day, the House
and Senate approved the $216 billion, six year transportation bill,
known formerly as ISTEA and now as TEA-21.  The President has not signed
the bill yet, because he is awaiting a technical corrections bill to fix
the glitches found in the main bill.

As reported in recent alerts, community organizations around the country
worked together to make four major changes to the legislation: greater
participation for mass transit users in the planning process; new
requirements for public involvement in the recertification of MPOs;
disclosure of federal transportation projects on the local level; and
the creation of a new federal initiative called Access to Jobs.

Participation in the planning process: [TEA-21, Section 1203; see also
Sections 3004 and 3005]

In this section, the statute identifies several categories of
individuals who are to be given particular attention by the Metropolitan
Planning organization (MPO) in the planning process.  The list now
includes representatives of mass transit users. Representatives of mass
transit users are now guaranteed the opportunity to comment at various
stages of the planning process, including the development of the
long-range plan, the development of the Transportation Improvement
Program (TIP), and the final approval by the MPO of the proposed TIP.
References to "representatives of mass transit users" appear in the new
law to this effect in a half-dozen places.

Participation in the recertification of MPOs: [TEA-21, Sections 1203 and
3006]

This provision does two important things.  First, it creates a role for
public involvement during the certification exam.  Prior law has
required that MPOs be evaluated on their public participation
achievements during recertification, but has not required that the
certification process itself be subject to public involvement.  Second,
it gives the Department of Transportation broad authority to define the
format for this public involvement during recertification.  Regulations
on the certification amendment can go well beyond the statute to create
an entire procedure for public involvement during certification exams,
as long as the Department of Transportation deems this involvement
"appropriate".

The law states that MPOs representing populations of 200,000 or more
citizens must be certified by the Department of Transportation every
three years.  The purpose of this certification is to confirm that MPOs
are in compliance with federal transportation law.  If the Department
finds that an MPO is not in compliance, it may withhold up to 20 percent
of that agency's federal transportation allotment.  Any funding that is
withheld is restored in full once an MPO is recertified.

Disclosure of projects: [TEA-21, Sections 1203 and 3005]

For the first time, MPOs must disclose all local projects that receive
federal transportation funding. To avoid the compilation of
insignificant information, such as the cost of painting yellow stripes
down individual roads, the new law requires that the categories of
disclosure be consistent with the type of projects described in the TIP.


Access to Jobs: [TEA-21, Section 3037]

In summary, the bill authorizes $150 million each year to benefit
job-related transportation services to low-income persons and welfare
recipients ($10 million of that is specifically earmarked for
reverse-commute programs).  Sixty percent of the funds are to be spent
in large urban areas, twenty percent in small urban areas, and twenty
percent in rural areas.  Eligible applicants for grants may include
MPOs, local governmental authorities and agencies, and nonprofit
organizations.  Eligible activities include projects that: promote
transit use by workers with nontraditional schedules; promote transit
vouchers; promote employer-provided transportation; or finance capital
expenses and operating and maintenance costs to provide access to jobs.

In FY 99, only $50 million of the total is guaranteed; Congress must
appropriate the other $100 million.  Over time, the amount that is
guaranteed increases, so that by FY 2003, the full $150 million will be
guaranteed funding.

ACTION NEEDED: Urge members of the Appropriations Committees in the
House and Senate to fund $100 million for Access to Jobs.  Members of
the Senate Transportation Subcommittee should be targeted first.  The
Subcommittee is expected to mark-up the FY '99 Transportation spending
bill shortly.

Key targets are: Shelby [R-AL], Specter [R-PA], Lautenberg [D-NJ],
Mikulski [D-MD], and Reid [D-NV].

See the STPP web site for legislative updates on Access to Jobs:
www.transact.org/access/index/htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rich Stolz, CCC at 202/342-0567 or
email richs@commchange.org

IMPORTANT BILLS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS...

Attacks on CRA - The Senate is expected to take up the Credit Union bill
(HR 1151) soon, and Senator Shelby [R-AL] plans to offer an amendment
that would exempt small banks from compliance with the Community
Reinvestment Act (CRA).  Urge your senators to oppose the Shelby
amendment, or any other attempts to weaken CRA.

Attacks on Fair Housing - The full Judiciary Committee still has not
taken any action on HR 3206, the bill that would severely undermine the
Fair Housing Act.  Continue to educate your Congress members about the
harmful consequences of these amendments if they were to pass.

Child Care Funds - The Kerry-Bond amendment to the Tobacco bill that is
being debated in the Senate may be voted on this week.  The amendment
would require that some of the funds that go to states for a range of
programs include amounts earmarked for the Child Care and Development
Block Grant (CCDBG).  Urge your Senators to vote for the Kerry-Bond
amendment.

PostSecondary Education for Welfare Recipients - The Wellstone amendment
to the Higher Education bill (S 1882) may be voted on at the end of this
week.  The amendment would expand educational opportunities for welfare
recipients.  Urge your Senators to vote for the Wellstone amendment.

Budget Resolution - The full House passed its five-year budget plan, or
Budget Resolution, on Friday, by a largely partisan vote of  216-204.
To appease his party, Budget Chair Kasich [R-OH] deleted $10 billion in
Medicare cuts and apparently replaced them with cuts to TANF, the
welfare program.  Overall the plan would require huge cuts in domestic
spending programs to pay for tax cuts.  The House and Senate Budget
Resolutions will be reconciled to produce one budget plan.

AND ON THE HORIZON...

In upcoming alerts we will report on the new bill (HR 3899) sponsored by
Rep. Lazio [R-NY] to promote homeownership, as well as the new American
Community Renewal Act (ACRA) bill (HR 3865), introduced by Reps. Watts
[R-OK] and Talent [R-MO].