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Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing on the American Jobs Plan

On April 20,  the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hybrid hearing on “The American Jobs Plan: Infrastructure, Climate Change, and Investing in Our Nation’s Future.” The hearing focused on the funding included in President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, including the $213 billion designated for housing infrastructure.

Four witnesses from the Biden administration joined the hearing:

  • Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Department of Transportation
  • Administrator Michael Regan, Environmental Protection Agency
  • Secretary Gina Raimondo, Department of Commerce
  • Secretary Marcia Fudge, Department of Housing and Urban Development

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge outlined how the American Jobs Plan would address housing infrastructure needs. In reference to public housing, she stated, “Nearly 2 million people across the country live in public housing – including families, seniors, and people with disabilities…The American Jobs Plan calls for an investment of $40 billion to improve our public housing infrastructure and address critical safety concerns for residents.”

Following the testimonies, several committee senators questioned the witnesses. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) asked Sec. Fudge whether any of the $213 billion in funding would go toward homeless families. Sec. Fudge responded that the American Rescue Plan (HR 1319) already included $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers and $5 billion for homeless assistance programs. She explained that HUD will continue responding to homelessness across the nation.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) expressed her concern about the proposed $5 billion grant program that would incentivize jurisdictions to make changes to their local zoning laws. In response, Sec. Fudge emphasized the grant program is voluntary, and the changes it incentivizes are intended to make it easier to develop equitable, affordable housing.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) then asked Sec. Fudge how the administration plans to make sure housing stays affordable for the people who need it the most. Fudge acknowledged housing affordability is a major problem in the US. A few solutions include RAD, housing tax credits, manufactured housing, and affordable multifamily housing. However, Fudge urged the committee members to bring existing affordable housing – including the nation’s public housing stock – back up to code before focusing all their efforts on alternative solutions.

Many other senators joined the hearing to question all four witnesses. The written witness statements and a recording of the full hearing are available online.

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Sylvia Gimenez

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