Terrorism Reinsurance Near Compromise, Section 8 Program Threatened
By Eugene T. Lowe
November 4, 2002
When Congress returns after the mid-term elections, two of the many issues that it will have to settle are terrorism reinsurance and a provision approved in the House HUD-VA bill that threatens the Section 8 program. National public interest groups are working both issues through grass roots efforts in an attempt to get the terrorism reinsurance bill passed, and the Section 8 provision defeated before final passage of the FY2003 VA-HUD appropriations bill.
Both the House and Senate had passed terrorism reinsurance bills, H.R. 3210 and S. 2600, respectively. But the conference between Senate and House stalled over disagreement on punitive damages and the issue of tort reform. Just before Congress adjourned for the mid-term elections, the administration agreed to a three-year program that would provide supplement payments to the insurance industry in the event of future terrorist attacks. The agreement is expected to pass when Congress returns in November.
As for Section 8, when the House Appropriations Committee passed HUD's 2003 fiscal year bill on October 10, it approved a provision that would change how public housing agencies determine the amount of funds needed to cover voucher costs. Currently, funding is provided to renew every voucher received in communities across the nation. The House approved provision would renew vouchers that were leased as of the last reported fiscal statement. In a draft letter that is currently circulating on Capitol Hill that would go to Senator Barbara Mikulski (MD), Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on VA-HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations and Senator Christopher Bond (MO), Ranking Member on the Senate Subcommittee on VA-HUD and Independent Agencies Approp1) It could result in the immediate loss of housing for low-income families currently receiving vouchers and will result in the permanent loss of over 130,000 housing vouchers, most of which are likely to be used by low-income families in FY03;
1) It could result in the immediate loss of housing for low-income families currently receiving vouchers and will result in the permanent loss of over 130,000 housing vouchers, most of which are likely to be used by low-income families in FY03;
2) It will start a downward spiral that will lead to further, significant reductions in the voucher program; and
3) Unused Section 8 funds will continue to be generated, a problem the House appropriators say their plan is intended to solve."
Both the Senate and House must pass the VA-HUD bills on their respective floors in November. The Section 8 controversy will likely be worked out in the House and Senate conference on the bill.