October 24, 2005

TO:
  Members of the U.S. House of Representatives
FROM:
  Kay J. Maxwell, President
RE:
  Anti-Democracy Amendment to H.R. 1461

The League of Women Voters is deeply concerned by a proposed amendment to H.R. 1461, the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005 that limits the ability of American citizens to engage in our democratic process. We strongly urge you to vote against this amendment when H.R. 1461 comes to the House floor for consideration.

The League of Women Voters believes that democratic government depends upon the informed and active participation of its citizens at all levels of government. It is our understanding that this amendment will do the very opposite. It will restrict non-profit organizations from engaging in non-partisan voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities in the 12 months prior to applying for grants through the Affordable Housing Fund. The amendment further prohibits non-profit organizations that receive grant funds from subsequently engaging in these very important activities.

We are troubled that the amendment extends very far in blocking participation in democratic processes. For example, it includes a very expansive definition of voter registration activity in prohibiting organizations from engaging in non-partisan voter registration at any time during the year. The amendment also states that if a particular non-profit organization does not itself engage in any prohibited activities, “affiliation” with an organization that does would disqualify the non-profit from applying for Affordable Housing Fund grants. The amendment then includes an expansive definition of affiliation.

The Affordable Housing Fund provides funds to grantees to build housing that is affordable to low income families. The League supports the Affordable Housing Fund and believes that providing affordable and decent low income housing to all Americans is an important goal. We find it alarming that this amendment would try to restrict non-profits from participating in non-partisan political activities.

The United States Congress should be promoting the values and processes of democratic government, not attempting to limit them. We urge you to oppose this ill-advised amendment.