House bill would kill abandoned property program

AP News
Posted: Mar 16, 2011 7:06 PM

Republicans ignored a White House veto threat and pushed a bill through the House on Wednesday halting a federal program that gives state and local governments money to buy and upgrade abandoned buildings.

The Bush-era program has been embraced by the Obama administration at a time of mounting foreclosures as a way to prevent neighborhoods from decaying. Republicans say the initiative has failed and argue that with record federal deficits, taxpayers' money should be saved.

The measure, approved 242-182 in a mostly party-line vote, would block the spending of about $1 billion.

"We're on the side of people who are paying taxes in this country," said Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif.

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., called the bill an "affront and insult" to residents of neighborhoods with abandoned homes, saying surrounding real estate values drop as "an old burned-out hulk sits there and sits there."

The bill is the third of four bills ending federal housing programs that Republicans have been moving through the House. They have scant chance of surviving in the Democratic-run Senate. The White House has threatened to veto them all.