WASHINGTON -- The House yesterday gave final approval to legislation that would allocate $1.275 billion for the HOME program in fiscal 1994, but set up a potential clash with the Senate over an unrelated funding issue in the bill that could slow its progress.
The legislation approved by the House would fund Department of Housing and Urban Development programs such as HOME as well as various independent agencies during fiscal 1994. In passing the bill, the House added a rider to kill funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's project to develop a new type of solid rocket booster for the space shuttle.
The House's action was highly unusual, because it negated a decision made by House and Senate conferees, who had already reconciled differences between the two versions of the bill. The House had originally voted to kill the rocket booster funding, but the Senate had voted to finance the rocket booster. The conferees sided with the Senate in crafting the final bill.
Now the Senate will have to decide whether to accept the bill without funding for the rocket booster. The Senate could put the booster funding back in, which would send the bill back to the House for another round of voting.
The HOME program, created in 1990, requires the federal government to match contributions that state and local governments make to low-income rental and home ownership projects.
Contributions that are eligible for federal matching funds include a state or locality's general obligation housing bonds as well as a portion of its multifamily and mortgage revenue bond issues.
The House first signaled its displeasure with the conferees' decision on the rocket booster two weeks ago. At that time, the House overwhelmingly voted against the rules for debate on the bill, sending it back to the conference committee.
Housing lobbyists then became concerned that in reopening the bill the conferees could shift some of the $1.275 billion earmarked for HOME to another housing program that had just received approval from Congress. But in the end, the conferees left the $1.275 billion intact.