WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Democrats have just weeks to try and slim down their massive $3.5 trillion social spending package.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says cuts are unavoidable.
One group of house Democrats argue housing funds cannot be on the chopping block. The group is demanding the president’s Build Back Better Plan include billions to bolster affordable housing across the U.S.
“This is our once in generation opportunity,” Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said. “From New York to West Virginia to Arizona to California, people are hurting. Housing prices continue to rise.”
Waters and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., say the pandemic made the housing crisis worse for millions already struggling to make rent.
“Housing is a problem,” Cleaver said.
The push comes as Pelosi promises to cut the cost of the package in order to win support from moderate Democrats.
“We have to make some difficult decisions of course,” Pelosi said.
The original plan contained more than $300 billion for housing programs, including $90 billion for rental assistance over the course of ten years.
Right now, Pelosi says she’s considering shortening the length of some programs to avoid deeper cuts.
Democrats have until the end of the month to shave billions off their plan in a way that every Democrat in the House and Senate supports.
Cleaver says he hopes the nation’s top Democrat, President Joe Biden, won’t give up on housing funding.
“He didn’t grow up in a mansion so he understands,” Cleaver said.
So far, the White House has not publicly weighed in on potential cuts.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president and his team are directly involved in discussions to move along the negotiations and “find a way to unify around a package that can deliver.”