Elections Bring New Landscape for Housing

NAHB Housing Policy Briefing

By National Association of Home Builders | November 29, 2018
American flags
Photo: Unsplash/David Everett Strickler

With the 2018 midterm elections settled, the National Association of Home Builders is looking ahead at opportunities to build consensus around housing issues in the new Congress.

The election outcome—Democrats will control the House of Representatives while Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate—will shape debate through 2020. Shifting control of the House will result in new leadership of oversight committees concerning tax policy, housing finance reform, flood insurance, and infrastructure.

On the Senate Finance Committee, the retirement of Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) creates a vacancy likely to be filled by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). Coming from an agricultural state, Grassley may focus on trade issues, but taxes and health care also will be a major focus of the committee. Grassley served as the committee’s chair from 2003 to 2007 and has been a critic of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) remains as the ranking member for the Democrats. He has taken a strong personal interest in housing affordability challenges and is generally viewed as pro-trade.

Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) will take over as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. With Republicans still in control of the Senate and White House, it’s unclear what Neal may be able to accomplish, though he does have a positive working relationship with Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who will transition from chairman to ranking member.

Sen. Michael Crapo (R-Idaho) will likely remain chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs for the 116th Congress. As chairman in the 115th Congress, Crapo was successful in passing NAHB-supported bipartisan banking regulatory reform legislation but was unable to build a similar consensus to pass housing finance reform legislation.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is expected to remain the ranking member of the full committee. While a small group of banking committee Democrats have worked with Crapo and others to craft housing finance reform legislation, Brown has never offered his support. Without strong buy-in from the ranking member on the committee, passage of comprehensive housing finance reform will be difficult to achieve.