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Biden plan to eliminate suburb-friendly zoning might land in Dems' budget bill

A portion of President Biden's $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan suggests offering grants to cities that "take concrete steps" to end "exclusionary zoning" for single-family homes.

Updated: July 1, 2021 - 10:40pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

President Joe Biden's plan to "eliminate exclusionary zoning" for single-family homes in America's cities and towns might land in the filibuster-proof budget bill that Democratic leaders in Congress are drafting.

A portion of President Biden's $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan offers grants to cities that "take concrete steps" to end "exclusionary zoning" for single-family homes.

Under a section titled "Eliminate exclusionary zoning and harmful land use policies," Biden's jobs plan argues that "for decades, exclusionary zoning laws — like minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements, and prohibitions on multifamily housing — have inflated housing and construction costs and locked families out of areas with more opportunities."

According to the White House fact sheet on the plan, which has not been formally drafted into legislation yet, Biden is "calling on Congress to enact an innovative, new competitive grant program that awards flexible and attractive funding to jurisdictions that take concrete steps to eliminate such needless barriers to producing affordable housing."

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure agreement that a bipartisan group of senators reached with the White House does not mention exclusionary zoning. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Democrats would seek to pass the parts of Biden's jobs plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan that are left out of the bipartisan framework on infrastructure.

Michigan Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, said the Democrat-led Congress should enact Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda instead of only focusing on the bipartisan agreement on physical infrastructure spending.

"It's not just a slogan, we want to come out of this stronger than ever, and the bipartisan effort on infrastructure is one piece of that," said Stabenow, a member of the Senate Budget Committee. "But we need to do the rest of what needs to be done in the jobs plan and the family plan to really meet the needs of our economy and our families."

Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is working on a budget reconciliation bill that would be able to pass with only Democratic votes in the 50-50 Senate. He has said the reconciliation package could total up to $6 trillion.

Just the News asked Sanders' office if the senator supports the exclusionary zoning portion of Biden's jobs plan and if he wants to include it in the spending bill. In response, Sanders' office said on Wednesday that "discussions are ongoing" regarding the contents of the reconciliation bill. 

When asked if he supports Biden's proposal to eliminate exclusionary zoning, House Majority Whip James Clyburn said he hasn't read that portion of the plan.

"I have not read that bill," said Clyburn. "We'll see what happens in the final document. It will come to the House, and I'll do my thinking between now and then, and I'll take whatever action I think is necessary. So I'll have to read that." 

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