Tuesday night, on a vote of 229-193, the House passed an amendment to the THUD (Transportation Housing and Urban Development) bill that blocks any HUD funding that enforces President Obama’s fair housing rule (AFFH). The amendment, offered by Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar, protects local zoning rights from federal overreach.
Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has been ringing alarm bells since 2012 about the “Radical in Chief’s” plan to transform suburban neighborhoods by punishing state and local officials who don’t integrate what the federal government considers the correct mix of citizens based on income, race, ethnicity, etc.
The AFFH rule represents a stunning repudiation of America’s system of local self-government. This is as radical—and as politically explosive—a change as anything President Obama has attempted. That’s exactly why he never talks about it, and why he’s delayed it past every election, setting deadline after failed deadline for the final rule’s release. . . .
Republican representatives in particular need to understand that once the final AFFH rule is promulgated, this issue is going to be widely discussed and debated. Constituents will hold them responsible for failing to stop AFFH when they had a chance. . . .
Contrary to its title, AFFH isn’t about blocking housing discrimination. That is already illegal, and former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan acknowledged that AFFH is not about stopping housing discrimination, but instead about changing the way Americans live. AFFH will force every municipality that takes federal housing money to take a detailed survey of where its citizens live, by income, race, ethnicity, etc. If the mixture is not to the federal government’s liking, changes would have to be made at local expense. In effect, this would strip local governments of their zoning power.
Following the passage of his amendment in the House, Gosar issued the following statement:
“As the president reaches the end of his second term, he has made it clear that his top priorities during his waning days are furthering his far-left political agenda by forcing big government programs on the American people. His new AFFH regulation is one of the most far-reaching attempts yet to punish communities that don’t submit to the president’s liberal ideology. American citizens and communities should be free to choose where they would like to live and not be subject to federal neighborhood engineering at the behest of an overreaching federal government.
“Furthermore, HUD officials shouldn’t be holding hostage grant monies aimed at community improvement based on its unrealistic utopian ideas of what every community should resemble. Local zoning decisions have traditionally been, and should always be, made by local communities, not bureaucrats in Washington DC. I am extremely pleased to see the House put a stop to this attempt by the Obama Administration to control a fundamental aspect of the American dream.”
Kurtz writes that the AFFH rule, once finalized, “would be one of the most radical and transformative actions ever taken by the Obama administration.”
AFFH repudiates the core principles of our constitutional system by allowing the federal government to effectively usurp the zoning powers of local governments. Over time, AFFH would transform the way Americans live, urbanizing suburbs and Manhattanizing cities. The Gosar amendment now goes to the Senate, where it is likely to spark vigorous debate. The prospects of Senate passage are real, yet very far from guaranteed. Should Republicans fail to block AFFH, this massive federal power play is likely to become a significant issue in the presidential campaign. In the early stages, the AFFH rule will mandate the collection of information on the precise racial, ethnic, and income distribution of housing in nearly every census tract in the nation. Once that information has been gathered, escalating pressure will be placed on municipalities across the country to abandon local zoning policies and re-engineer housing stock at local expense. Municipalities will be pressured to join regional consortia that will have the effect of taking housing decisions out of the hands of elected officials and the citizens they represent. And the federal government will pressure localities to build dense housing developments near transportation hubs and business areas.
The Gosar amendment is endorsed by Americans for Limited Government, Freedom Works, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Taxpayers for Common Sense and Eagle Forum.
It now goes to the Senate, where the prospects for passage are good — but not guaranteed. Kurtz predicts that Obama’s power grab will likely become a major issue issue in the 2016 presidential campaign should Senate Republicans fail to block the AFFH.