While the new $1.3 trillion omnibus bill is another egregious example of governmental over-reach and over-spend, there’s one bright spot in the act: At least it won’t fund an Obama-era social engineering experiment. Now Congress needs to take action to end permanently the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation.
By John Friend
The recently passed omnibus spending bill, which funds the federal government for the 2018 fiscal year, was reluctantly signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 23. The bill is an absurd 2,232 pages in length and outlays $1.3 trillion in federal funding, yet another demonstration of the mind-blowing reach and expanse of the U.S. federal government.
There may be a bright note to this otherwise ridiculous spending outlay. Language embedded in the bill upends a controversial Obama-era policy administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), a regulation enacted in 2015 that permitted HUD—a federal agency—to dictate and influence basic zoning policies in local municipal and county jurisdictions.
The program essentially allowed the federal government to shape zoning laws in local jurisdictions in a manner that advances the Marxist ideal of forced social integration and represents a tremendous overreach by the federal government into the affairs of local communities. The rules effectively told communities what they could build and where and monitored neighborhoods to arbitrarily force ethnic and income diversity.
According to the AFFH rule, local municipal or county governments accepting any portion of the $3 billion annual community development block grants awarded and administered by HUD would be forced to rezone neighborhoods and cities based on income and racial criteria determined by the federal government.
According to Robert Romano, vice president of public policy at Americans for Limited Government, the relevant portion of the omnibus spending bill concerning the controversial HUD program states: “None of the funds made available by this act may be used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to direct a grantee to undertake specific changes to existing zoning laws as part of carrying out the final rule entitled ‘Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing’ . . . or the notice entitled ‘Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Assessment Tool.’ ”
“This provision utterly guts the HUD regulation, which had already been delayed by HUD Secretary Ben Carson earlier this year until 2020,” Romano recently wrote, commending the GOP-led Congress and the spending bill for tackling this controversial policy head on. “While there were many problems with the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, one thing the Republican-led Congress got absolutely right was defunding Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing from being used to force communities to make changes to local zoning law.”
Overall, the spending bill provides funding for a variety of programs and activities administered and carried out by the federal government, from military spending to border security and everything in between.
Trump initially threatened to veto the bill due to its lack of funding for his proposed border wall, a signature issue of his 2016 presidential campaign that garnered national attention and much support from his constituent base. Eventually, the president backed down and signed the bill, basing his decision largely around his concern for funding the U.S. military.
John Friend is a writer based in California.