Stevens, Craig, Wild lead vulnerable Democrats on HUD earmarks

Almost $25 million in HUD funds would go to their districts

Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., would get $10.5 million for economic development projects in her district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., would get $10.5 million for economic development projects in her district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted July 16, 2021 at 11:43am

Earmarks attached to the housing spending bill would send $76.4 million to vulnerable Democratic districts, with the biggest sums secured by Reps. Haley Stevens of Michigan, Angie Craig of Minnesota and Susan Wild of Pennsylvania.

Of the 32 blue districts identified as part of the Frontline program by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, 27 would receive Housing and Urban Development Department funds set aside in the fiscal 2022 Transportation-HUD draft spending bill scheduled for markup Friday by the House Appropriations Committee. 

Republican districts identified as competitive in 2022 would get less than half the amount, $30.3 million, that would go to vulnerable Democratic districts.

Democrats revived the earmarks process this year after a decadelong hiatus. The 67 community projects that would be funded in vulnerable districts are just a handful of the 975 earmarks attached to the bill. The draft would set aside $923.5 million for HUD-related economic development projects, in addition to the $427.5 million devoted to highway projects and almost $80 million in airport grants. 

The House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee set a $5 million limit for allocations to individual projects included in the draft, though for housing-related initiatives funding tended to be much lower than that cap. 

Stevens, Craig and Wild, three women who flipped Republican-held seats in 2018, stand to bring millions home to their districts as Democrats seek to maintain control of the House in 2022.

Stevens, who represents a district in the suburbs of Detroit, would bring home $10.5 million in funding for economic development projects under the draft legislation. She held on to her seat with a 2.4 point margin in 2020. 

The funds would be spread across six projects, including $3 million to build a new senior center in Livonia, Mich.; $2 million for Commerce, Mich., to divert sludge from landfills by turning it into fertilizer; $1.5 million to build an outdoor pavilion to host community events in Troy, Mich.; and $1.6 million to build sidewalks and other pedestrian paths in White Lake, Mich.

Stevens also secured earmarks for a $2 million project to rebuild a road with the goal of revitalizing former prison sites on the boundary between Plymouth and Northville, Mich., as well as a $400,000 allocation to make the Plymouth cultural center compliant with disabilities law.

Craig would bring home $7.3 million to four HUD-related economic development projects, including $3 million for a retail development in Cottage Grove, Minn.; and $3 million to convert 50 acres of unused land in South St. Paul, Minn., into industrial space available for businesses. 

Smaller projects would include $1.2 million to refurbish Dakota County Technical College’s commercial driving center and $138,434 to help Wabasha, Minn., buy and develop land for the National Eagle Center along the city’s riverfront.

Craig won reelection by a 2.3 point margin, less than the 6.9 point margin of President Joe Biden’s victory in her district. The district includes the city of South St. Paul and the surrounding area. 

Susan Wild’s district, encompassing parts of Allentown, Pa., stands to get $7.3 million in earmarked funds for economic development projects under the draft bill. Wild won reelection by 4.3 points in 2020.

Those would include $3 million to build the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown to host exhibits and provide educational activities for local students; $2.9 million to build and equip a community-owned, nonprofit grocery store in Bethlehem, Pa.; and $1.4 million to support Community Bike Works, a youth mentorship program, with locations in Allentown and Easton, Pa.

Republican earmarks

Vulnerable Republicans secured fewer earmarks and less funding overall in allocations that would be funneled through HUD for economic development projects, though the price tags for individual projects tended to be higher than for Democrats.

Unlike the DCCC, the National Republican Congressional Committee has not publicly identified red districts that could face a tough fight in 2022. However, the Democrats have shared a list of 21 Republican-held seats they plan to target next year. Of those, 10 secured earmarks in the HUD portion of the draft spending bill.

Of the $30.3 million in HUD spending earmarked for competitive Republican districts, Reps. John Katko of New York and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania stand to send the most home. Both asked for significantly less money for projects than the draft bill would provide.

Katko secured $6 million in earmarks spread evenly across two projects, a wastewater treatment facility in Oswego County, N.Y., and an emergency homeless shelter run by the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Syracuse, N.Y. In both cases, Katko requested $750,000. 

Biden carried Katko’s district by 9 points in 2020, though the congressman held on to his seat with a 10.2-point margin. 

Fitzpatrick’s district stands to get $4 million for economic development projects in the draft measure, including $3 million to renovate the YMCA Bucks County, Pa., and $1 million for part of a planned 25-mile off-road trail from Newtown to the Delaware River in Holmesburg, Pa.

Fitzpatrick asked for $600,000 for the YMCA renovation and $500,000 for the trail. Biden won Fitzpatrick’s district by a 5.8-point margin, though Fitzpatrick sailed to reelection with a 13.1 point victory margin.