What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : America's Poor : H.R. 1227, Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act of 2007/On passage (2007 house Roll Call 172)
 Who: All Members : New York, District 2 : King, Pete
[POW!]
 
H.R. 1227, Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act of 2007/On passage
house Roll Call 172     Mar 21, 2007
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Progressive Result
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This was a vote for final passage on a bill to provide housing assistance to the residents affected by the 2005 hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast. The measure would prevent the demolition of damaged public housing in New Orleans until the federal government comes up with replacement units. The legislation would also grant displaced public housing tenants an absolute right of return and remove restrictions on the approximately $110 billion already appropriated for hurricane recovery.

The final vote came after two days of debate during which Republicans tried unsuccessfully to limit the scope of voucher programs (Roll Call 168) and made a successful attempt to amend the bill to prohibit those convicted of drug or violent crimes from living in rebuilt public housing in New Orleans (Roll Call 171).

The bill, sponsored by Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), would extend the disaster housing voucher program run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) until January 2008. The House also adopted an amendment by Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) to extend a separate housing assistance program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency until the end of 2007 and then transfer eligible families into the Section 8 housing assistance program run by HUD (Roll Call 166).

Many Republicans opposed passage of the bill on the grounds that Congress and the American taxpayers had already been adequately generous to those who lost their homes in the 2005 storms affecting the Gulf Coast. Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) said that Democrats were using the disaster relief bill to work on "other agendas," such as expanding the Section 8 federal housing assistance program. Moreover, he said, Congress has already authorized more than $110 billion for recovery efforts. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) further stated that extending housing assistance vouchers does not give people an incentive to "get moving" to get their lives back together.

Democrats countered that such arguments were ludicrous and that the legislation simply made up for the failed efforts during the previous legislative session to adequately jump-start recovery in the region and help people get back on their feet.

Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) responded that the residents displaced by the hurricanes are not "appropriate candidates for tough love. These are not people who are in some situation through their own lack of character. They are people who were displaced by a great physical disaster."

Frank added that unless the federal government helps to fix the problem of lack of housing, the region is going to continue to be plagued by a "chicken-and-egg" problem of unemployment and lack of housing, as employers are moving out of the region because there are not enough places for workers to live.

All 230 Democrats present, joined by 72 Republicans, voted to pass the legislation. By a final vote of 302-125, legislation to extend housing assistance to residents affected by the 2005 hurricanes and prevent the demolition of damaged public housing until more can be built passed the House and moved on to the Senate.

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