Congress Passes Short-Term Funding Extension

An aerial vew of US Congress

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Congress cleared a short-term funding extension Thursday night, avoiding a government shutdown slated to begin this weekend. The measure keeps spending at current levels through Feb. 18 and extends authorization for the National Flood Insurance Program.

The move takes one item off the legislative to-do list during a busy December. Congress has yet to pass any of the 12 annual appropriations bills and will need to strike a longer-term spending deal next year. 

Lawmakers must still agree to raise the debt ceiling by Dec. 15, when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the nation could be at risk of default. In October, National Association of REALTORS® President Charlie Oppler (now immediate past president) was invited to the White House, where he met with Yellen and President Joe Biden and urged lawmakers to find a long-term debt ceiling solution.

“With more than $8 trillion in mortgage debt backed by the federal government, the real estate sector is highly susceptible to market instability,” Oppler said at the meeting. “A debt default would unleash unnecessary and unknown harm on the economy, and our 1.5 million members, most of whom are small business owners. And rising interest rates would serve a devastating blow to the homeownership dreams of countless American families.“

Biden also wants his signature Build Back Better plan signed into law by Christmas. The Senate is currently debating the measure following House passage last month.

NAR spent the past year educating lawmakers on various issues in the original proposed legislation. The version passed by the U.S. House includes state and local income tax relief and a historic $150 billion allotment for affordable housing, and it spares real estate investment from the most feared new taxes.

Further changes are expected to the bill in the Senate.

Other Congressional News

On Monday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency unveiled its 2022 loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. GSE loan limits rose by 18.05% to $647,200 nationally and $970,800 in high-cost markets.

NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith is scheduled to testify on Dec. 8 before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity about removing barriers to homeownership for veterans.

Also next week, Congress hopes to pass the delayed National Defense Authorization Act. The House-passed version of this bill includes the SECURE Notarization Act, which allows new flexibilities with remote online notarization. NAR continues to call for the inclusion of this provision in the final bill.