Cantwell Pushes for Affordable Housing, Infrastructure Investment at Nomination Hearing for Deputy Treasury Secretary

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, questioned Wally Adeyemo, President Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department, about how he would deliver on Biden administration promises—and longtime Cantwell priorities—regarding affordable housing and transportation infrastructure.

President Biden has proposed expanding the Affordable Housing Tax Credit, also called the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, with a $10 billion investment to increase housing supply and make the credit more efficient. Senator Cantwell has led the fight to expand and strengthen the credit, including introducing legislation last Congress to help build nearly 10,000 new affordable housing units in Washington state. She secured a $5.8 billion housing provision in the omnibus bill passed by Congress in December that is estimated to increase affordable housing production by 130,000 units nationwide over the next decade. In 2018, she secured a nearly $3 billion down payment toward addressing the affordable housing crisis, helping to build over 28,000 units. Washington faces a severe affordable housing crisis, with only 31 available affordable rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households.

“In President Biden’s agenda is a further investment in the Affordable Housing Tax Credit,” Cantwell said. “My colleague Senator Young… and I have introduced legislation to increase by 50 percent the amount of money going in to affordable housing, because the tax credit creates jobs and it also helps provide important unit availability. What will you do to help carry out President Biden’s agenda on the affordable housing tax credit agenda?

“I agree with you that this is a critical issue for us in terms of ensuring that we meet the affordable housing needs in this country,” Mr. Adeyemo replied. “That tax credit has been successful, we should look at ways to make sure that we’re using it in a way that’s effective going forward. I look forward to working with you and Senator Young on that.”

Cantwell, the new Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, also asked Mr. Adeyemo about the administration’s plans to invest in our nation’s infrastructure—an issue she has been vocal about—as well as in workforce training.

“I see that there’s a great opportunity to work collaboratively, both on the infrastructure dollars, and on the job training and skilling of a workforce to be able to take advantage of those infrastructure jobs and infrastructure investment,” Cantwell said. “I hope that in the next COVID package we can marry this up so that we’re both making the investment in very-needed infrastructure but also skilling a workforce that can take advantage of those high-wage jobs.

Mr. Adeyemo replied, “I completely agree, senator. I think that the things you mentioned are all critical to American competitiveness and we need to make sure that our economy is competitive as we come out of COVID-19 in order to make sure that our workers and our firms have the opportunity to sell American goods here at home and also abroad.”

If confirmed, Mr. Adeyemo would be the first Black deputy secretary of the Treasury. He previously served as a deputy national security adviser for International Economics and deputy director of the National Economic Council under President Obama.

Video of Senator Cantwell’s Q&A from the hearing is available HERE and audio is available HERE