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WASHINGTON, DC-The areas of potential standoffs between the Democratic-led Congress and President George Bush is spreading to potentially affect housing legislation. His latest veto threat is against H.R. 3074, the House appropriations bill for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development. The $105.6-billion bill would provide funding for federal housing programs, including $38.7 billion for HUD.

The rhetoric deployed by both sides is predictable: Among Bush’s complaints about the bill are the more than 2,000 earmarks for, among other things, “museums, zoos, gardens, gymnasiums, and golf courses, and diverts funds from such priority purposes as housing, low-income families, bridge repairs and highways.” Also, according to a White House statement, H.R. 3074 does not adopt any of Bush’s proposed terminations or reductions in programs “that have been shown to be ineffective or duplicative, which would have saved nearly $3 billion.”

Advocates of affordable housing, for their part, note that Bush wants to cut HUD funding by $3.1 billion and that the bill also includes important policy guidance on a range of HUD programs. “During this holiday season, the president’s veto threat couldn’t be more poorly timed,” says Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “In this time of increased foreclosures and housing displacement, cutting the very programs that provide a backstop for those in need of housing makes no sense and could compound the problem by increasing displacement.” According to NLIHC, the number of households with “worst case housing needs” jumped from 5.2 million in 2003 to nearly six million in 2005, a 16% increase.

The fate of the bill remains uncertain. The House passed the FY08 Transportation-HUD spending bill last week by a vote of 270-147, which falls short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. An earlier version of the bill passed by the Senate in September, though, at a veto-proof 88-to-7 vote count. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill on the week of Dec. 3.

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