House Subcommittee Presses Treasury Secretary about CDFI Fund Budget Cuts

Dafina Williams

On March 4, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared before the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee (FSGG) for a hearing on the Department of the Treasury’s Budget Request for FY 2021.

In attendance at the hearing were: Chairman Quigley (D-IL) and Ranking Member Graves (R-GA), along with Reps. Bishop (D-GA), Amodei (R-NV), Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Joyce (R-OH), Crist (D-FL), and Torres (D-CA).

The hearing began with FSGG Subcommittee Chair Mike Quigley highlighting that the Treasury’s budget once again proposed eliminating funding for the CDFI Fund grant programs. Several other members of the subcommittee also questioned Treasury Secretary Mnuchin about the proposed cuts to the CDFI Fund grant programs and changes to the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program:

  • Rep. Bishop asked how the zeroing out of the CDFI grant programs, plus the proposed lowering of the CDFI Bond program’s guarantee authority from $500 million to $300 million and the imposition of additional administrative restrictions in the budget proposal, would impact the availability of capital in low-income communities.
  • Rep. Kirkpatrick highlighted the importance of the CDFI Fund’s financial assistance to tribal communities in Arizona, and that in addition to financing, CDFIs provide financial education, entrepreneurship training, credit counseling, and small business planning. She challenged the Secretary on whether the Administration had considered the damage that defunding the CDFI Fund programs would do to Native communities across the country, and if the Treasury Department was supportive of the CDFI Fund.
  • Rep. Crist inquired about the additional administrative support the CDFI Fund might need to develop and administer the new Small Dollar Loan Program, which received $5 million in appropriations in FY 2020.

In his responses, Secretary Mnuchin acknowledged that the CDFI Fund programs provide significant benefits to many communities and enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress. He expressed interest in the new Small Dollar Loan Program highlighted by Rep. Crist and stated repeatedly that if the committee appropriates money for the CDFI Fund, the Treasury Department would administer the programs responsibly.

The hearing comes as Congress ramps up its work on the FY 2021 appropriations process. Members of the House and Senate are currently preparing their appropriations requests for the upcoming fiscal year, providing the perfect opportunity to reach out to your elected officials and ask them to support $304 million for the CDFI Fund in FY 2021. 

Visit OFN’s Policy Action Center to contact your Member of Congress today!

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