HUD Secretary visits Oakland, pushes ‘Build Back Better’ plan

U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary Marcia Fudge began a two-day swing through the Bay Area Thursday, stopping first at Oakland’s Fruitvale Transit Village.  Fudge said the affordable housing crisis in California drove her to make the trip. 

"The crisis here is as great as it is anywhere, but the reason I’m really here, is because you’ve got solutions too," said Fudge. 

Fudge praised completed and ongoing construction at Fruitvale Village as examples of affordable housing solutions. She was joined by housing advocates and other local elected officials. 

"Oakland and the Bay Area is ground zero for the devastating human impacts of our failures to provide sufficient housing," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. 

Secretary Fudge is out promoting President Biden’s "Build Back Better" agenda and its proposed investments in housing and economic development. Congress will decide the fate of the $3.5 trillion social spending bill and the bipartisan infrastructure bill.  

"We cannot afford to lose this battle," said Fudge. "We cannot afford to not take care of our children and our parents and grandparents. We cannot allow for people to sleep on the streets." 

Across the Bay Bridge, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Alex Padilla held their own news conference at the California Academy of Sciences, pushing the Biden agenda’s provisions to fight climate change.  "We have a moral responsibility to pass this planet along to future generations in a way that’s responsible," said Pelosi. 

The White House and Democratic leaders are working to find compromise between the party’s progressive wing and moderate senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.  

Speaker Pelosi has set a de facto deadline of October 31 for votes on the two bills, but said Thursday she’ll bring the bills to the floor when she has the votes.  "I feel very confident as the senator indicated, this will get done, because it must get done," said Pelosi. 

As Democrats try to lower the price tag, they’ll need party unity to pass the reconciliation bill with no Republican support.  

"I think there is a very good chance that the tax and spending bill will collapse," said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas).  "One, because the American public is starting to see what's in it, and two, moderate democrats really do understand they're on their own."

Secretary Fudge will continue her Bay Area visit on Friday with stops scheduled in San Francisco.