The National Association of Home Builders decided late Friday to renew its political giving to federal candidates, convinced that Congress is sufficiently focused on addressing the downturn in the housing market.
The board of trustees for its BUILD-PAC voted unanimously to resume making contributions to candidates, reversing a Feb. 12 decision that suspended such giving out of frustration that lawmakers were not doing enough to help its industry.
Unlike other trade groups, the political giving is directed by a board of about 70 members rather than a few politically connected staff members.
The decision to stop PAC contributions caused consternation along K Street and Capitol Hill, with many feeling that the action was politically mishandled and raised the specter of a quid pro quo.
But Ed Brady, chairman of the BUILD-PAC board, defended the decision and noted that it got the attention of lawmakers, the public and the media.
Since the announcement, the Senate passed its housing stimulus package and the House is scheduled next week to take up its bill.
"The trustees decided that, 'Yes, we have been heard and that it's time to consider reinstating the PAC's contributions,'" Brady said. "It was a frustrating position that we were in."
BUILDPAC ranks among the top six trade association PACs, raising more than $3 million this cycle and distributing more than $1.4 million, according to its latest figures.
The association had given $833,000 in contributions to federal candidates so far this election cycle, with 47 percent going to Democrats and 53 percent to the GOP, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The NAHB also is redirecting its support of the tax package being debated by Congress.
It helped lead the effort for the Senate tax break that would provide struggling businesses a greater ability to obtain refunds from prior years when they were profitable.
Under current law, business could carry back such net operating losses for only two years; the change would extend it to four years at a cost of $6.1 billion.
But that tax break came under major criticism from both sides of the aisle as an unwise bailout to major builders that profited greatly a few years ago.
Joe Stanton, NAHB's chief lobbyist, said the group is focusing its support on the House tax package that would give first-time homebuyers a tax credit up to $7,500 and make significant changes in the low-income housing tax credit that encourages the building and rehabilitation of affordable units.
"We got beat up," Stanton conceded on the Senate tax package. He noted that the Senate tax break was helped when the top 15 major homebuilders hired the C2 Group to push the provision, but that it soon became dubbed as the "home-builder tax break" even though other industries such as automakers and banks would benefit from it.
"The message got a little mixed that this was the end-all, be-all for the homebuilding industry," Stanton said.