House Democrats Reach Deal for $3.5 Trillion Budget Framework, Schedule September Vote on Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
The House of Representatives passed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution Tuesday, after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) promised moderate Democrats a September vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill to garner their support for a framework that sets-up the “reconciliation” process. (Washington Post, Aug. 25)
Why It Matters
- “I am committing to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill by September 27,” Pelosi said. “We must keep the 51-vote privilege by passing the budget and work with House and Senate Democrats to reach agreement in order for the House to vote on a Build Back Better Act that will pass the Senate." (Speaker Pelosi Statement, Aug. 24; Politico, Aug. 24)
A group of 10 Democratic moderates led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) agreed to allow the House to consider the $3.5 trillion budget resolution – encompassing “human” infrastructure initiatives – contingent on a vote for the “physical” infrastructure bill. For the past several weeks, the moderates insisted they would not move on to the budget package unless the Senate-passed bill also received a House vote. (Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 20)
The Roundtable’s summaries of issues affecting CRE that are in play as part of the “physical” and “human” infrastructure packages are available:
- The human infrastructure proposal that may be advanced in the House under budget reconciliation rules would be partially financed by raising taxes on businesses and wealthy individuals – and potentially include a variety of tax increases affecting commercial real estate (see Tax Policy story below)
- The Real Estate Roundtable held an all-member Infrastructure Town Hall on Aug. 12 to discuss the Senate-passed infrastructure bill, what lay ahead in the House, and the potential impact on commercial real estate.
- Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY), a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, joined Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman and CEO, Suffolk), and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, for the Town Hall discussion. (Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 13)
- DeBoer, stated, “This [reconciliation] package may be financed with a variety of tax increases affecting step-up in basis, like-kind exchanges, carried interest and capital gains that would act as a cumulative drag on investment at the exact time when sectors of the economy need incentives to recover from the pandemic. The Roundtable urges Senate and House policymakers to be very cautious as they proceed on the reconciliation bill – so that one-step forward with the physical infrastructure bill is not met with two-steps backward from tax increases.” (Roundtable statement, Aug. 11)
- Congressional committees are in the process of drafting different sections of the reconciliation package. They have a non-binding deadline of submitting their text by Sept. 15. (Axios, Aug. 24)
- Reconciliation would likely move in the House first. The House Budget Committee will compile each committee’s individual text into a single package for a floor vote that, if approved, would then be sent to the Senate.
Getting both packages to President Biden’s desk for his signature will be a major challenge. Congressional leadership must consider demands of centrists who balk at the $3.5 trillion price tag for “social” infrastructure, and progressives who believe the $550 billion in new spending for “physical” infrastructure is not big enough to address issues such as climate change. (CNBC, Aug. 25)
Supreme Court Blocks CDC’s Latest Eviction Ban
The Legal Challenge
The high court’s conservatives issued a majority, 6-3 opinion striking the latest iteration of the eviction ban issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Aug. 3. (Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 20). “If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it,” the Justices decided.
- The gist of the ruling is that the CDC’s public health role could not be stretched so far to encompass the federal ban. “[T]he CDC has imposed a nationwide moratorium on evictions in reliance on a decades-old statute that authorizes it to implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination,” the majority wrote. “It strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that it asserts.”
- The majority recognized the financial burden on landlords deprived of rent payments with no guarantee of recovery. “Despite the CDC’s determination that landlords should bear a significant financial cost of the pandemic, many landlords have modest means” the majority wrote. “And preventing them from evicting tenants who breach their leases intrudes on one of the most fundamental elements of property ownership—the right to exclude.”
- Three justices in the Court’s liberal minority would have kept the moratorium in place due to the surge of the Delta variant.
Focus on Disbursing Rental Assistance
- A coalition of national real estate organizations – led by the National Apartment Association and the National Multifamily Housing Council, and including The Real Estate Roundtable – has consistently opposed the CDC’s eviction ban.
- The groups have called upon Congress to focus on disbursing billions in unspent sums of federal rental assistance appropriated in prior COVID-19 relief bills – instead of destabilizing rental markets with a nationwide eviction ban. (Roundtable Weekly, July 30).
- The latest figures released by the Treasury Department this week on the status of rent relief disbursements remain disheartening. While more funds are reaching tenants and landlords, only $5.1 billion out of a total $46.5 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance has been distributed by states and localities through the end of July. (AP, Aug. 25)
- Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer commented, “Federal, state, and local policymakers must act with urgency to ensure that tenants and housing providers in distress due to the pandemic receive the aid the Congress appropriated for them – and help bring stability to our housing markets.”
- States have had varying levels of success in getting federal rent assistance out the door. “Texas and Virginia have distributed the largest percentages of their allocated funding at around 34% and 41% respectively, while New York State hasn't even doled out 1% of its federal rental assistance.” (U.S. News, Aug. 25).
- The Treasury Department has a website to help tenants and landlords find rental assistance programs in their local areas. The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) also has an online hub that provides resources for renters and housing providers to access COVID-19 emergency relief.
Tax Proposals Under Scrutiny as Timetable Moves Up for Mammoth Reconciliation Bill
The unanticipated commitment by Speaker Pelosi to allow a stand-alone vote on the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill no later than September 27 has scrambled the Congressional calendar and put increased attention and focus on the potential for major tax changes.
Why It Matters
- House Leaders are urging committees, including the powerful Ways and Means Committee, to complete their work on the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill by September 15. Ways and Means Chairman Richie Neal has indicated a formal mark-up could start the week of Sept. 6 and continue 4-5 days. (E&E Daily, Aug. 25)
- Accelerating the consideration of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill may allow its supporters and advocates to retain political momentum for the massive package of social safety net, environmental, tax, and other policies—momentum that could be lost once the infrastructure bill is sent to the President.
- The shortened timetable, however, puts pressure on lawmakers who are considering complex changes to the tax code that would normally require hearings, extended debate, and substantial vetting.
- The Real Estate Roundtable has raised concerns regarding a number of proposals in the President's plan that would raise the tax burden on capital formation, undermine property values and the functioning of real estate markets, and harm the industry’s ability to create jobs and support local communities through property tax revenue. These proposals include restrictions on like-kind exchanges, an elimination of the reduced tax rate on capital gains, and the taxation of unrealized gains at death.
- On Tuesday, the accounting industry expressed strong concerns with the President’s proposed changes to capital income. The letter noted that, “[t]he taxation of the capital gains on gift or death in many cases would be the third time that the gain is taxed.” Imposing immediate tax on transfers by gift or death is an unreasonable requirement when the transfers are non-liquid assets such as real estate, business interests, etc., because it may require the forced liquidation of some or all of the assets transferred,” they continued.
- Last Friday, the Tax Foundation challenged the Administration’s claim that their tax proposals would spare 97 percent of small businesses. The organization analyzed the most recent IRS data and concluded the President’s proposals would reach more than half of pass-through business income (because 54% of pass-through income is earned by taxpayers making more than $500,000).
- At the same time, lawmakers are mobilizing to ensure that the $3.5 trillion bill includes priorities such as increased investment in affordable housing. On Thursday, 111 House Democrats led by Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Don Beyer (D-VA) wrote to Speaker Pelosi urging that the legislation include a significant expansion of the low-income housing tax credit.
Real Estate Roundtable members and others are encouraged to weigh in with their lawmakers regarding the proposed tax changes and their potential impact on real estate and the broader economy. Here are some resources: