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December 19, 2014
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113th Congress Wraps Up, Leaves Town

Copyright: Orhan Cam

The 113th Congress wrapped up its work this week as only Washington can. In a mixed bag of dysfunction and productivity, the Senate passed a compromise on the tax extenders bill, but was unable to renew the federal terrorism insurance program that is set to expire on December 31.   

Passed last week by the House, the tax extenders bill was the Senate's last order of business in a vote of 76-16 on Tuesday evening. But the tax extenders have been renewed through this year only, leaving them in limbo again for 2015.  

Meanwhile, the renewal of the terrorism risk insurance program was left undone due to political infighting.  Specifically, retiring Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), and other GOP members, objected to renewing the program saying the private market would step in to insure individuals and businesses. Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), also mounted a campaign over the last minute inclusion of a Dodd-Frank provision.

In the end, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pointed to House Republicans to take up renewal of terrorism insurance next year, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) responded by saying the GOP will act early in the new Congress to do just that.

For detailed coverage of these and other key multifamily issues, including military housing, the FY 2015 HUD budget and more, see this week’s articles below.

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Congress Goes Home Without Renewing Terrorism Insurance

Copyright: Yury Zap
As mentioned above, the 113th Congress adjourned leaving one critical piece of business undone – the reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA).

The Senate was unable to overcome the objections of Senator Coburn (R-OK) who placed a “hold” on the bill because of a non-TRIA provision and all efforts to negotiate a deal were rejected.

This is an especially unfortunate turn of events given the recent success by House and Senate leaders to craft a negotiated long-term TRIA reauthorization proposal. 
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NMHC Insider
Senate Clears Tax Extenders Bill, Representing a Win for Multifamily
On December 16, the Senate cleared a one-year extension, through 2014, of expired tax provisions, which represents a win for NMHC/NAA on behalf of the multifamily industry.  Specifically, we advocated throughout the year for several provisions in the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, including those providing incentives for investment, construction of low-income housing, and energy-efficiency that will be beneficial to our industry.
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Advocacy Eliminates Five Percent Cut to Military Housing Benefit
NMHC/NAA was successful in helping enact legislation on December 13 that eliminated a proposed five percent cut over the long-term to a core military housing benefit. Specifically, Congress passed the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which had been delayed by deep divides between the House and Senate measures that included proposed changes to the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). These changes would have increased the out-of-pocket expenses for one million troops and impacted apartment communities that serve the military.
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Final FY 2015 HUD Budget Focuses on Multifamily Priorities
HUD funding in the Fiscal Year 2015 $1.1 trillion government budget bill passed this week by Congress, and signed by President Obama, includes numerous provisions that are important to the multifamily industry. Specifically, funding levels for HUD’s Section 8 rental assistance programs, both project and tenant-based, were fully funded. The budget also provides the Federal Housing Administration’s multifamily programs with substantially more credit authority, or capacity to insure new business, than they are expected to need in the coming year.
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Fannie, Freddie to Finance Affordable Housing Funds

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced on December 11 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will start funding the production and preservation of affordable housing through the Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund.  The funds were set up as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, but were put on hold by the agency soon after.

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The Sony Data Breach: Looking Past the Hype
Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably heard about the Sony data breach this week where hackers accessed the personal information of nearly 7000 employees, including social security numbers and birth dates. And, most covered by the media, the personal emails of Sony executives were hacked, with them dishing about the world's biggest celebrities like Angelina Jolie.
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Industry Weighs-In on HUD's Section 8 Project-Based Preservation Guidance

HUD recently requested feedback on the department’s proposed standards for transferring budget authority for Project-Based Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contracts. Previously, combining Section 8 contracts was administratively difficult, but the standards help to streamline the process and recapitalize the portfolio.

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NMHC PAC is Now Lucky Number Seven

The popular and widely-read Capitol Hill publication Roll Call announced this month that NMHC PAC is now lucky number seven on its new top ten list of association PACs.

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Register Today! NMHC Annual Meeting January 20-22 in Palm Springs
The NMHC Annual Meeting is the premier event of the year where our members come together to network with their colleagues. The meeting will be held from January 20-22 at the La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs, CA.  Plan to attend informative sessions led by industry leaders, see first-class headliner keynote speakers, and to network at the fun-filled social events. Open to members only.
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Hill Watch
The House and Senate are in recess next week.
Media Roundup
Good Riddance to the Worst Congress Ever
Washington Post
Least Productive Congress? Not This One, Barely
ABC News
Senate Closes Trillion-Dollar Budget Deal
Tax Extenders Vote a Bipartisan Affair
Roll Call
Coburn Blocks U.S. Terrorism Insurance Bill in the Senate
Huffington Post Politics
Five Clues About the Next Congress in the Chaotic End to This One
Washington Post
Fannie and Freddie Officially Approve 3% Down Payment Mortgages
The Scoop

Boehner and Schumer Spar Over Terrorism Insurance… on Twitter

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) fought this week by exchanging harsh words – on Twitter – about the fact that 113th Congress closed up shop without renewing the terrorism insurance program.  With the program set to expire on December 31, there was plenty of blame to pass around, but the two also sparred on social media this time and not just in the halls of Congress.

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*Please note that Multifamily Markup will be on hiatus through the holidays and will return on Friday, January 9.

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