Pandemic Relief

House Committees Advance Provisions Supporting President Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Virus Relief Proposal; Democrats Aim to Pass Final Bill by Month’s End

U.S. Capitol

House committees this week advanced legislative language that will transform President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package proposal into a consolidated bill and provide details on aid for states and local communities; assistance for renters and homeowners; and support for small businesses.

  • The progress in the House is a positive development that brings much-needed economic relief and funding to defeat COVID-19 one step closer to enactment. The Real Estate Roundtable consistently has urged policymakers to take aggressive actions to combat the pandemic.

  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer said,” The Real Estate Roundtable is encouraged by both Democratic and Republican efforts to work toward additional economic relief from the pandemic. Given the continuing great need for additional assistance to cities, people and businesses, we continue to urge policy makers to find a path forward.” (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 5)

  • Democrats plan to pass the final legislation through “reconciliation” procedural protections, which will prevent a filibuster by Republicans when the measure reaches the 50-50 Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) yesterday said she expects the House will approve a bill “by the end of February so we can send it to the president’s desk before unemployment benefits expire” on March 14.  (CNBC, Feb. 11 and Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 5)

  • The House Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 11 approved over $630 billion in new tax relief, including $460 billion in 2021 alone.  Their provisions include $1,400 payments to individuals; credits for children, childcare and dependent care; and expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. The temporary federal unemployment and benefit would also be extended through August 29, 2021, increasing the weekly benefit from $300 to $400. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 11and Ways and Means Committee mark-up videos)

  • The committee proposal – “Subtitle G. Budget Reconciliation Legislative Recommendations Relating to Promoting Economic Security – passed on a partisan 24-18 vote with  no amendments. (Section-by-section summary and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) description)
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA)
  • House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA), above, stated, “Over the last two days, the Ways and Means Committee has considered aggressive, science-based solutions that will deliver the urgent relief our country so desperately needs. From unemployment benefits to health care affordability, the work we’ve done is substantial, and it is exactly what the American people have been calling on us to do to meet this moment.” (Ways and Means news release, Feb. 11)

  • The House Financial Services Committee was also one of the House committees this week that held legislative markup sessions to formulate legislative details for Biden’s pandemic relief proposal. (Financial Services Committee Instructions, Feb. 4 and Markup videos, Feb. 10)

  • In her markup opening statement Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) noted, “The package also includes $25 billion to provide rental assistance, including $5 billion towards 70,000 emergency vouchers and funding directed to rural and tribal communities.  The package also includes language … to provide $10 billion to support struggling homeowners, who face a looming foreclosure crisis. And, it … provides $10 billion to support small businesses, including minority-owned businesses that are closing their doors at historic rates.”

  • More than half of 2.7 million active home mortgage forbearance plans are set to end in March, April, May or June, according to mortgage-data firm Black Knight Inc. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 9)

  • During the Small Business Committee’s Feb. 10 markup, $50 billion in emergency pandemic aid for small businesses was approved. Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velazquez said, “Surveys show that one in three small business owners will not survive the next few months without additional financial support.” (Rep. Velaquez opening statement, Feb. 10)

  • The committee’s language would also provide $25 billion for restaurants and bars under a new Small Business Administration program, and $15 billion for “economic injury disaster” loans.  (Washington Post and BGov, Feb. 11)

In the Senate, the pandemic relief package is expected to go straight to the Senate floor, circumventing the committee “mark-up” process, due to the ongoing impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, which may conclude this weekend. (Bloomberg, Feb. 11)

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Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Roundtable’s ED&I Committee Releases Mission Statement Aiming to Advance Racial Equity in CRE

Roundtable Meeting

The Real Estate Roundtable’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) Committee finalized its mission statement on Wednesday, with a key objective to create more economic opportunities for Black, Latino and other historically under-represented groups to prosper in the commercial real estate industry.

  • The ED&I Committee’s mission statement draws from the Biden-Harris Administration’s executive order “On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities” (Jan 20), as well as data recently reported by Citi GPS on the economic cost of racial inequality in the U.S.

  • The statement provides a four-part mission to:

    • Encourage RER’s members to create equal opportunities in real estate’s management, workforce, supply chain, and capital markets for Black, Latino, and other professionals historically under-represented in the CRE industry;

    • Develop an anti-discrimination, pro-inclusion federal policy agenda within The Roundtable’s traditional spheres of influence as an advocate on tax, capital markets, ESG, housing, infrastructure, and immigration matters;

    • Forge alliances by The Roundtable with civil rights and minority business organizations; and

    • Increase diversity among Roundtable membership, directors, contractors, and staff.

  • Roundtable Board Member and ED&I Committee Chairman Jeff Blau (CEO, Related Companies) stated, “The creation of a mission statement is a foundational step that will guide The Roundtable in its crucial work to create equity and affect real change in the real estate industry. Diversifying our industry is not a task that can be left to a few, rather it is a responsibility for all of our members and I look forward to continuing to work with RER to advocate for and drive meaningful progress.”

  • The ED&I Committee’s initial focus will be on initiatives to boost opportunities for minority-owned firms in CRE’s supply chain of service providers, and support appropriate federal policy proposals to improve diversity in corporate governance.

  • The Roundtable is also a “Founding Diversity Partner” in a national program recently launched by the Real Estate Executives Council (REEC) — the leading trade association formed to promote the interests of minority executives in the CRE industry.  The Roundtable’s ED&I mission statement reflects the goals of REEC's framework, including objectives to increase corporate spend on minority-owned vendors, develop a pipeline of racially diverse CRE talent, and improve access to capital and credit for minority owned investment managers.  (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 5)

  • NAIOP and the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) are also among the founding partners in REEC’s initiative.

“The events of the last year have laid bare the injustices faced by Black Americans and other minorities in our economic, public health, and social institutions,” said Jeffrey D. DeBoer, President and CEO of The Real Estate Roundtable.  “The Roundtable must do our part to help create an equal playing field of opportunities for all Americans to prosper in our industry.” (ED&I Mission Statement, Feb. 10)

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Infrastructure

President Biden Focuses on Infrastructure Policy Plan With Key Senate Committee Leaders

Infrastructure Meeting at White House with Senate EPW members

The critical need for investing in modern and sustainable infrastructure was the focus of a Feb. 11 White House meeting between President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and a bipartisan group of senators from the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee.

  • The Senate EPW committee was represented by Chairman Thomas Carper (D-DE), Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and former Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK).

  • Biden stated at the meeting that the EPW Committee “is central to everything that’s going to happen” on infrastructure. (White House Remarks and meeting video, Feb. 11). White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki remarked that the meeting “was a reflection of how important it is [for Biden] to meet with bipartisan leaders and have a discussion about what’s required in states and communities.” (White House press conference video, Feb. 11) 

  • The president noted the importance of investing in infrastructure to maintain Americas’s international competitiveness, referring to China’s advancements in high-speed rail and automobiles by stating, “if we don’t get moving, they’re going to eat our lunch.” (Washington Post, Feb. 11)

  • Sen. Cardin said after the meeting that “it's going to be a challenge to… have adequate revenues to fund transportation moving forward.” Congressional focus on an infrastructure package is widely expected to take place after the legislature acts on the next round of COVID-19 relief. (Politico, Feb. 11). 

  • Sens. Cardin and Carper led a Feb. 9 letter from nearly 50 Democrats from both the House and Senate to Secretary Buttigieg, regarding the need for federal transportation policies to create jobs while also reducing carbon pollution, with an emphasis on reducing vehicle tailpipe emissions.

  • In a December 16, 2020 letter, The Roundtable and 12 national real estate organizations provided detailed recommendationsto then President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris that included infrastructure funding and modernization as engines to drive recovery and job growth from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • The December industry letter stated, “A strong national infrastructure is vital to the health of the nation’s real estate, and vice versa. Roads, bridges and mass transit enhance the values of nearby properties, which in turn generate greater tax revenues to fund even more infrastructure assets.”

  • The Roundtable is also part of Build by the 4th coalition led by U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which encourages the Biden Administration and the new Congress to pass a comprehensive infrastructure deal by Independence Day 2021.

The Biden Administration is expected to reveal its infrastructure package soon as part of its “Build Back Better” agenda to spur economic recovery from the repercussions of the pandemic.

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