Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., fired back at President Trump Wednesday evening in an escalating debate over housing, saying that she has introduced an amendment to block what she called his “latest racist, classist nonsense.”
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Trump made an appeal to suburban voters earlier in the day, tweeting that they “will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in” their neighborhoods.
He also made his case to voters in Midland, Texas Wednesday, telling a crowd that Democrats want to “abolish the suburbs.”
"I just ended the rule on suburbs. You know, the suburbs, people fight all of their lives to get into the suburbs and have a beautiful home,” Trump said. “There will be no more low income housing forced in to the suburbs. I abandoned it, took away and just rescinded the rule. It's been going on for years. I've seen conflict for years. It's been hell for suburbia.”
That rule the President is referencing is the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which his administration terminated last week. The AFFH was put in place by the Obama administration in 2015, and required that local governments create plans to address housing discrimination in order to get certain federal funding.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement that the rule was “unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with, too often resulting in funds being steered away from communities that need them most.”
The Trump administration had already suspended the AFFH in January 2018, but last week they terminated it and replaced it with a new rule called the Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice, which will give localities more control over what qualifies as fair housing.
While Trump has framed the move as protecting suburbs, many Democrats have accused the President of stoking racial anxieties.
Former secretary of HUD, Julian Castro, tweeted that Trump actually got rid of the rule “to play white identity politics in an election year.”
Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez says she has already introduced an amendment to block the Trump administration's changes from going into effect. Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Protecting suburbia has become a regular talking point for President Trump as the election grows nearer. He said last week, in a tweet addressed to the “Suburban Housewives of America,” that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden “will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream.”
Biden does have a sweeping housing plan that includes re-implementing the AFFH. He would also “eliminate exclusionary zoning policies” and expand Section 8 housing vouchers.
“Biden will tie new federal investments in housing to a requirement that states and localities eliminate regulations that reduce the availability of affordable housing and contribute to sprawl,” his campaign writes.
The President won suburbia over Hillary Clinton 49 to 45 percent in 2016, according to CNN's exit polls. Those numbers appear to have dropped precipitously though, as a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll from last month has Biden ahead 60 to 35 percent in the suburbs.