Policy Landscape

Congress Extends Funding Deadline to Dec. 23; Democrats Pushing Full-Year Omnibus Spending Bill

U.S. CapitolThis week, Congress passed a government funding extension package until Dec. 23 while appropriators continue working on a $1.7 trillion FY2023 “omnibus” spending deal that they may unveil on Monday. (CQ News and BGov, Dec. 16) 

Omnibus Negotiations 

  • President Biden is expected to sign the extension today, as bipartisan efforts to reach a funding agreement continue among congressional policymakers. Some Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), are urging their colleagues to postpone negotiations until January when the GOP assumes majority control of the House. (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 14)
     
  • The logjam in reaching a final deal focuses on $26 billion in non-defense, domestic spending. Both sides have agreed on $858 billion for defense spending. (Forbes, Dec. 14)
     
  • If an agreement on an omnibus cannot be reached next week, Democrats may forego new legislation in favor of a one-year continuing resolution that would freeze government funding at current levels and allow certain tax policies to expire. (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 2 and Dec. 9

Tax Policy Prospects 

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA)

  • Chances that a spending agreement will include tax policy—including “extenders” of tax incentives that have expired or are set to lapse after 2022—are uncertain. (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 9)

  • House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA), above, said on Thursday, “We continue the negotiations. The conversations are ongoing. I still can see the contours of a big deal.” (BGov, Dec. 16)

  • Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said earlier this week that he is doubtful that a year-end tax deal will be added to an omnibus. (Politico, Dec. 13)

Implementing IRA Tax Provisions

  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will open a new office to monitor the agency’s implementation of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy provisions, according to a new IRS report released Thursday.

  • The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Transformation & Implementation Office will include units focused on “implementation of new tax law provisions, taxpayer services transformation, tax compliance transformation and human capital transformation.” (BGov, Dec. 15)

  • Additionally, The White House released a guidebook this week on the IRA’s clean energy provisions as a compendium reference to the large amount of federal energy and climate programs financed by the IRA. (White House Fact Sheet, Dec. 15) 

The Roundtable will discuss energy and tax policy developments during our 2023 State of the Industry and Policy Advisory Committee meetings on Jan. 24-25 in Washington, DC.

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Workplace Return

Roundtable Urges President Biden to Weigh Negative Impacts of Remote Work on Cities, Broader Economy

RER Letter to Biden on Remote Work

The Roundtable wrote to President Joe Biden on Dec. 12 about the ongoing, harmful economic impacts of widespread remote work on cities, local tax bases, and small businesses—and how work-from-home policies by federal agencies threaten to magnify these negative economic and social consequences. (Roundtable letter | GlobeSt and CoStar, Dec. 15) 

Roundtable Requests 

  • The letter from Real Estate Roundtable Chair John Fish and President & CEO Jeff DeBoer urges President Biden “to direct federal agencies to enhance their consideration of the impact of agency employee remote working on communities, surrounding small employers, transit systems, local tax bases and other important considerations.”

  • The federal government maintains facilities in 2,200 communities, influencing local leasing activities, property values, and surrounding small businesses. Cities may continue to struggle if federal agencies encourage their employees to work-from-home on a permanent basis. Unfortunately, some federal officials view agency remote work simply as a recruiting tool or cost-saving measure. [Office of Personnel Management testimony, Future of Federal Work Part II, before House Committee on Oversight and Reform (July 21, 2022), and OPM’s Future of Work FAQ]

  • The Roundtable letter notes that federal agencies’ actions to emphasize the benefits of permanent remote work differ from the current direction of private sector employers, who are increasingly recognizing the need to bring employees back to the workplace.

  • The Roundtable comments also encourage President Biden to support legislation that could help facilitate “the increased conversion of underutilized office and other commercial real estate to much-needed housing.” The letter states that incentives for conversion projects could be modeled on the rehabilitation tax credit as a cost-effective means to increase the housing supply, create jobs, and boost the local tax base. 

Economic Impact of Remote Work 

Chicago cityscape sky view

Roundtable Members in the News 

  • Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman and CEO, SUFFOLK) spoke with Bloomberg Intelligence on Dec. 9 about the consequences of rising interest rates, the impact of remote work, labor force participation, and the general economic outlook. (Chair Fish interview begins at 26:05)

  • Former Roundtable Chair Bill Rudin (Co-Chairman & CEO, Rudin Management Company, Inc.) discussed real estate challenges and the potential for office-to-residential conversions in New York City on Dec. 14 during an interview with CNBC’s Squawk on the Street.

  • Roundtable Board Member Kathleen McCarthy (Global Co-Head of Blackstone Real Estate) was interviewed on Dec. 9 by Bloomberg Radio on a wide range of real estate investment issues, asset types, and her experience in the industry. 

Commercial real estate trends and potential policy responses will be discussed during The Roundtable’s Jan. 24-25 State of the Industry Meeting in Washington, DC.

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CRE & The Economy

Federal Regulators Identify CRE as a Risk to U.S. Financial Stability

U.S. Treasury DepartmentA council of federal financial regulators chaired by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated in their 2022 Annual Report released today: “the commercial real estate (CRE) and residential real estate sectors have the potential to increase risks to U.S. financial stability significantly.” (Treasury Department news release and PoliticoPro, Dec. 16) 

A Top Concern 

  • The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) identified CRE among its top market and credit concerns heading into 2023, given rising interest rates and borrowing costs. (FSOC Annual Report, pages 18-20)

  • Among the FSOC’s report conclusions:

    • “Rising interest rates, uncertain economic conditions, continuing weakness in urban commercial real estate, and the possibility that some post-pandemic changes in demand for CRE will become permanent have heightened concerns about CRE.”

    • "The Council recommends supervisors and financial institutions continue to monitor CRE exposures and concentrations, ensure the adequacy of credit loss allowances, assess CRE underwriting standards, and review contingency planning for a possible increase in delinquencies.” 
  • “In extreme cases, CRE credit losses can lead to outright bank failures, particularly for banks with high exposure to CRE loans,” according to the regulators’ report

Office Markets & Remote Work 

FSOC report on CRE

  • The Council emphasized that the office property market may face the most uncertainty, with the prospect of weak future demand as return-to-office plans evolve and users decide how much space they need.

  • The 2022 Annual Report notes that office property demand may take time to stabilize as tenants navigate remote work decisions and adjust leasing decisions. The FSOC also reports that a slow return to densely populated urban office centers could reduce the desirability of office properties and nearby retail space.

  • “This may be especially true for older, less desirable office spaces with fewer modern amenities,” the report acknowledges.

  • The report also notes, “structural changes in the demand for office space can lead to weaker credit quality for loans secured by office properties over the long term.”

The Fed’s Influence

  • FSOC regulators also caution that more aggressive action by the Fed—either in its interest rate decisions or changes in its holdings of mortgage-backed securities—could lead to further increases in mortgage rates that could negatively affect financial stability. (FSOC 2022 Annual Report and PoliticoPro, Dec. 16 ) 

The Council's mission is to identify risks to the financial stability of the United States, promote market discipline, and respond to emerging risks to the stability of its financial system. (FSOC website

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