WASHINGTON — Eighteen Republican members of Congress, led by Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, sent a letter last Friday to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson asking him to rescind the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule.
AFFH — an Obama-era HUD regulation proposed and established in 2015 by Carson’s predecessor, Julian Castro — requires that $3 billion of annual community development block grants on 1,200 recipient localities to rezone neighborhoods along income and racial specifications.
Sen. Lee previously attempted to defund the measure in May 2015 through a proposed amendment on a funding bill, but too many of his Republicans colleagues sided with Democrats to foil that.
Lee and Gosar were joined by Republican Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, John Barrasso of Wyominf, Ted Cruz of Texas, Steve Daines of Montana, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Rand Paul of Kentucky, James Risch of Idaho, Marco Rubio of Florida, John Thune of South Dakota, and Reps. Brian Babin of Texas, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Rod Blum of Iowa, Ken Buck of Colorado, Glenn Grothman Wisconsin, and Tom Massie Kentucky.
The letter reads in part: “We stand with you in opposing any and all instances of discrimination, but this rule does not actually help in that effort. Instead, it would extend reach of the federal government beyond its authority and could take away state and local governments’ ability to make local zoning decisions.”
It goes on to say, “Moving forward, we respectfully ask that you use your authority to rescind the AFFH rule in its entirety. It is critical that we pursue real, sensible reforms to reduce poverty and improve the opportunities available to lower-income citizens at the local level. We look forward to partnering with you to ensure justice and opportunity are preserved in every neighborhood across our great land.”
The AFFH rule affects localities across the nation and has been in the crosshairs of Republicans ever since the Obama administration targeted locales it believed were not racially diverse enough. Westchester County, New York Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, was in a prolonged fight with the Obama administration over the issue and traveled the country telling local leaders not to accept federal block grant funding from HUD to avoid the imposed regulations.