June 06, 2017

Brown Statement at Hearing on CEA, HUD Nominees

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – issued the following opening statement at today’s Banking Committee hearing on the nominations of Kevin Hassett for Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Pamela Patenaude for Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow.

Senator Sherrod Brown - Opening Statement
Hearing: CEA, HUD Nominees
June 6, 2017 

Thank you, Chairman Crapo, for holding this hearing today on the nominations of Mr. Kevin Hassett and Ms. Pam Patenaude.

I look forward to hearing their views on important areas of the committee’s jurisdiction: the economy, and housing and community development.

Ms. Patenaude comes to us with a long resume of involvement with housing and community development programs, HUD management, and housing advocacy.   

Most recently, she has headed the Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families.  In a report entitled “The Silent Housing Crisis” the Foundation reported that “[h]aving access to safe and affordable housing has long been recognized as a critical part of America’s social compact with its citizens.” 

I look forward to hearing her views, particularly since her past advocacy seems at odds with the approach HUD has taken in its budget proposal. 

Mr. Hassett is a respected economist, and he has done some important work related to the policies that drove manufacturing out of Ohio communities and others like it across this country.  I hope that his work at the Council of Economic Advisers will focus on policies to create jobs, improve education and workforce development, and rebuild our infrastructure.

That’s what’s needed to strengthen the economy, but instead we have seen the Administration threaten Wall Street reform, attempt to take away health insurance from 23 million people, target working Americans with steep budget cuts and increased debt, all to further the interests of the wealthiest Americans.

The Administration’s FY 2018 HUD budget proposal is a stark illustration of this agenda.  

At a time when more than 11 million renters pay over half their incomes toward rent, and 500,000 people are homeless, the President’s proposal would cut more than $7 billion - 15 percent - from HUD’s budget.  

The budget would eliminate programs like Community Development Block Grants and HOME, cut funding for public housing repairs by nearly 70 percent, and eliminate funding for an estimated 250,000 housing vouchers next year.  It even reduces funding for Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Housing Grants, which help protect children from lead poisoning, asthma, and other health problems. 

Almost five months ago in this room, Dr. Carson scoffed at the notion that he would support a 10 percent cut in the HUD budget.  He said that he understood from his experience as a pediatric neurosurgeon how it was far less costly to avoid lead poisoning than to treat it.  And yet, a few days from now, he will testify in support of HUD’s budget.

The broken promises don’t end there.  The President promised on the campaign trail – in Toledo and across the country -- to revitalize America’s inner cities and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.  I had hoped that we would be able to work with the Administration to strengthen our nation while providing good jobs in Ohio and across the nation.  

Instead, the President proposes to cut more in existing infrastructure programs than the $200 billion he is willing to invest.  The proposed HUD budget will only add to the struggles of our inner cities.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses how we can tackle the many challenges that face our country – from the crisis of housing affordability for our families and seniors to the stagnant wages and employment prospects of far too many of our fellow Americans.