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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CARSON of Indiana. Mr. Chairman, it is no secret to anyone in this Chamber that the American people are unhappy with Congress. In fact, our approval ratings could only be described as terrible. As much as television personalities might like to analyze why, I don't think it's difficult to understand. Time and time again, Mr. Chairman, our work ignores their priorities.

Now, under Republican leadership, we have spent months arguing over eliminating regulations, shrinking government, and crippling the Obama administration. Yet since the lowest point of economic downturn in 2008, the American people have cared mostly about two things: good jobs and stable housing. These are issues that have hit the African American community especially hard, which is why I come to the floor today with several of my colleagues from the Congressional Black Caucus.

Today, Mr. Chairman, unemployment among African Americans is above 13 percent, much higher than the national average. Concerns about stable housing are really nothing new, but they have been especially difficult since the start of our recession. In fact, 42 percent of homeless families with children are African American. So we were all glad to see the House take up the Transportation-HUD bill this week. We hoped to see some relief for our struggling communities.

But sadly, this bill falls short. It fails to adequately fund project-based section 8 rental assistance for low-income families. That means over 1.2 million families, Mr. Chairman, would be at risk of losing their homes. These are primarily seniors, families with children, and people with disabilities, including many who are in the great Hoosier State in my district.

The bill cuts homeless assistance grants, leaving an estimated 25,000 people without the assistance they need to get back on their feet. It entirely eliminates the Choice Neighborhoods program. In Indianapolis, we need these funds to rebuild blighted public housing projects, improve economic development and job opportunities in surrounding neighborhoods for low-income families.

It also eliminates the Sustainable Communities, which coordinates Federal, State and local public housing investments, helping communities make the best with limited funding.

I also want to add that I plan to strongly oppose any amendment that makes it harder to enforce the Fair Housing Act. Congress should not restrict HUD's work to end housing discrimination, intentional or unintentional.

These cuts, Mr. Chairman, strike at the very heart of what my constituents care about, having a stable place for their families to live and stay.

Over the last several months, Mr. Chairman, there has been one topic we have all agreed on, transportation projects equal jobs. Now, sadly, this bill defunds some of our most important job-creating programs. It eliminates funding for TIGER grants, which have put thousands of people to work across this country. My district received one of these grants to construct our great cultural trail. Many of my constituents worked to construct this trail, and today it is absolutely revitalizing neighborhoods and growing businesses and creating long-term job opportunities.

This bill also eliminates funding for high-speed rail, which early estimates predict could have created thousands of jobs in the great Hoosier State. Now, of course, there are other issues; but there are too many to name at this time.

But in talking today, Mr. Chairman, I simply want to express my disappointment. This week we are finally considering the one bill each year that must address top priorities for all Americans, jobs and housing. Instead, we're cutting programs.

My question to these people is, Mr. Chairman, and those obstructionists, what are you expecting our communities to do?

These are programs that work. They employ our constituents, Mr. Chairman, and they also improve our society.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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