The contours of a Republican housing policy and HUD budget have begun to take shape with recent actions by Congress.

Both houses have passed budget bills for HUD, the Department of Veterans Affairs and independent agencies; a compromise bill will now be worked out by a conference committee. Once the conference bill is passed by Congress, it will be one of thirteen spending bills sent to the President for signing. The present deadline for the budget legislation to be completed and signed is November 14, when the government’s temporary spending authority expires.

President Clinton has threatened to veto the HUD budget bill — but not because of objections to the proposed housing cuts. Both the Senate and House versions would effectively terminate the Corporation for National and Community Service, one of the legislative centerpieces of the Clinton presidency.

Although a complete rewriting of federal housing law is already underway, the recently passed appropriations bills portend the direction Congress is likely to take. While budget bills can always be read as an expression of Congress’ programmatic preferences, the pending appropriations bills contain an unusual amount of substantive legislation in addition to their spending provisions.