Political Transition

Mob Storms Capitol as Congress Certifies Electoral College Vote; Roundtable Denounces Violence, Urges Unity

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The violent mob attack on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 by pro-Trump supporters as Congress debated the Electoral College’s final votes shook the nation to its core this week, resulting in Democratic leadership calling for a second impeachment proceeding or invocation of the 25th amendment to immediately remove the president, whose term expires on Jan. 20. 

  • Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer issued the following statement:

  • "The Real Estate Roundtable strongly denounces the armed violent protestors, and their baseless election claims, who stormed the U.S. Capitol this week. The mob chaos was contrived to inflict great damage on our democracy. A member of the Capitol Hill police died bravely defending others against the attack. Thankfully, democracy again defeated anarchy.

  • "Those involved in plotting, acquiescing or participating in this despicable act are not patriots. They are violent lawbreakers and must be treated as such. This chaotic, seditious mob also could have inflicted serious damage to America’s fight against the deadly pandemic – a crisis that has already taken over 400,000 lives and caused enormous economic hardships.

  • "As we all continue to work to overcome the challenges of the pandemic we must also unify to make sure that this week’s violence is not repeated. The Real Estate Roundtable pledges to do its part. We commit to supporting efforts to bring about more measured tone and civility in policy debates at all levels of government, and policy actions that are balanced and sustainable. We intend to continue to analyze policy based on its benefit to jobs, community and opportunity. We will continue to work with policymakers representing the full spectrum of political views. However, we do not intend to help advance initiatives proposed by policy makers uninterested in seeking bipartisan consensus," DeBoer said. 

  • Congress certified the Electoral College vote results hours after the storming of the Capitol, and planning for the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is underway.  
  • The Capitol has not been attacked since 1814 when British troops burned federal buildings in Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812.

The Roundtable’s State of the Industry Business Meeting and Policy Advisory Committee Meetings will address the ramifications of the political transition on Jan. 26-27 (all meetings will be held virtually). 

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Policy Landscape

Democratic Control of White House, Senate and House Ushers in New Policymaking Dynamic

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The riot at the Capitol this week occurred during a momentous political power shift in Washington, as Congress certified the Electoral College’s votes confirming the incoming Biden-Harris Administration – and as the Jan. 5 Georgia runoff election determined the ruling party in the Senate.

  • The Georgia election, won by Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, gives Democrats a razor-thin edge as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be able to cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate after she is sworn in Jan. 20
  • The Democrats will control the White House, House and a Senate that will have no voting margin for defections. The 50-50 chamber will require close collaboration between Senate Democrats and the Biden Administration to advance legislative initiatives.
  • With Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as Majority Leader, moderate Democrats in the Senate will have a significant influence on advancing bills through committee and on final votes that Schumer allows to the Senate floor.
  • Yet Democrats who effectively now control the Senate will also assume chairmanships of committees that consider issues of importance to real estate. Among them are the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, whose gavel will go to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the panel's senior Democrat who served as chair six years ago.
  • Other new Senate committee chairs include:
    • Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chair Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
    • Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Joe Manchin (D-WV)
    • Environment and Public Works Chair Tom Carper (D-DE)
    • Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Gary Peters (D-MI)
  • More details related to Senate and House leadership positions and their respective committees can be found on JDSupra’sWelcome to the 117th Congress” (Jan. 8).
  • Democrats are likely to advance additional COVID relief packages in close cooperation with the Biden Administration, including fiscal assistance for State and Local governments. Other policy issues expected to be addressed soon by Democrats include transportation and infrastructure funding.  
  • President-elect Joe Biden also said today, “I will introduce an immigration bill immediately” after he assumes office.  (B-Gov, Jan. 8)
  • The Roundtable and 12 national real estate organizations on Dec. 16 congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their historic election and submitted detailed policy recommendations to the incoming administration on COVID-19 relief, sustainability, housing, immigration, tax policy infrastructure, and other policy issue areas. (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 18)
  • The industry letter acknowledges the many economic and social challenges confronting the country as the Biden Administration prepares to take office, including the national response to COVID-19. The letter and supporting policy memo were also sent to every congressional office on Capitol Hill.

The Roundtable plans to debut its 2021 Policy Agenda during its upcoming State of the Industry Meeting that begins Jan. 26.

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Coronavirus Response

Treasury Launches $25 Billion Emergency Residential Rental Assistance Program Supported by The Roundtable

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A $25 multi-billion residential rental assistance program launched on Jan. 5 by the Treasury Department will use funds from the year-end $900 billon coronavirus relief package signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 27. (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 22)

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will help to keep American families in their homes during this challenging time. Treasury is implementing this program with unparalleled speed so our state, local, and tribal partners across the country can provide assistance to families in need.”  (Treasury news release, Jan. 7, 2021)
  • States, U.S. Territories, tribal and local governments covering more than 200,000 people are now able to enroll in the ERAP through a web portal by providing payment information and accepting award terms. Households or landlords that qualify can apply through the enrolled programs that receive funding from Treasury.
  • Qualifying households include at least one person who is eligible for unemployment insurance or suffered a coronavirus-related financial hardship; is at risk of homelessness or housing instablity; and has a household income at or below 80 percent of “the area median.”
  • A federal rental assistance program—advocated by The Real Estate Roundtable since April 2020—comes as the National Multi-Housing Council reports that 76.6 % of apartment households paid rent as of January 6. (NMHC Rent Tracker)
  • The Roundtable last year called for the establishment of a rental assistance fund for impacted residential and business tenants. Calling it the “rental obligation chain,” The Roundtable emphasized that rent payments support owner payrolls, utility, taxes and debt service and further benefit capital providers and local governments. (Bisnow, April 30, 2020 interview with Roundtable President and CEO Jeff DeBoer and Roundtable Weekly,  Sept. 11, 2020 on MSLP testimony)
  • The enacted year-end omnibus bill took a partial step by establishing a $25 billion fund only for impacted residential tenants, although The Roundtable continues to support a similar, if not greater, fund for small business tenants.
  • The bill also extended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) current federal eviction moratorium one month (through Jan 31, 2021).

The Hill reported that “housing experts, advocates and economists have called on the federal government to provide sufficient rental assistance to protect tens of millions of Americans from eviction when the CDC ban expires.”  (Jan. 7, 2021 and Oct. 11, 2020)

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Coronavirus Response

Treasury Department Finalizes Regulatory Projects on Carried Interest, Deductibility of Business Interest

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Treasury Department officials are working overtime to complete several multi-year tax regulatory projects before handing authority over to the new Biden Administration. These rules largely relate to the implementation of the Trump Administration’s signature legislative accomplishment, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017

  • The recently finalized regulations address carried interest and the deductibility of business interest.
  • The IRS on Dec. 29 issued a final revenue procedure (Rev. Proc. 2021-9) creating a safe harbor for senior housing to qualify for an exception to the new limitation on the deductibility of business interest. The statutory exception is available to a “real property trade or business.” Uncertainty regarding whether an assisted living facility would qualify as a real property trade or business has hung over the senior housing industry since the legislation’s enactment. The new revenue procedure puts those lingering concerns to rest and clarifies that senior housing qualifies for the exception, as long as certain requirements are met.
  • In addition, Treasury released supplemental, final regulations on the deductibility of business interest this week.  The rules address changes made in the CARES Act, as well certain transition relief for partnerships (T.D. 9943)
  • The long-awaited carried interest final regulations implement the new three-year holding period requirement for carried interest to qualify for the long-term capital gains preference (T.D. 9945). 
  • The final carried interest regulations address several comments submitted by The Real Estate Roundtable. Roundtable comments aimed to ensure the rules are consistent with legislative intent of the provision (Oct. 5, 2020 comment letter). 
  • Specific improvements in the final carried interest rules provide greater flexibility for a general partner to finance an equity interest in a partnership with a loan from other partners in the partnership. The final rules also clarify that the three-year holding period does not override other provisions of the tax code that treat certain transactions as nontaxable events. 
  • Proposed regulations still outstanding include tax rules related to the transition away from LIBOR as a reference rate in mortgages and other financial contracts (Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 11, 2019).

The Roundtable’s Tax Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC) will discuss these regulatory efforts in detail on January 27 in conjunction with The Roundtable’s State of the Industry Meeting (all virtual).

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