Gun Violence

Congress Passes Bipartisan Gun Compromise

Capitol building with flag

This week, Congress passed the first major federal gun safety legislation in three decades and sent the bipartisan compromise to President Biden for his expected signature. The Senate passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act last night with a filibuster-proof 65-33 vote, which included the support of 15 Republicans and all Democrats. The House passed the measure 324-193 today. (Axios, and POLITICO, June 24)

Measures in the Bill

  • Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) reportedly took the lead in negotiating the compromise. (POLITICO June 23 | Section-by-Section bill summary | 80-page legislative text)

  • Murphy’s website and the Associated Press outlined the legislation’s measures, which would:

    • Enhance background checks for gun buyers under 21 years old.

    • Close the “boyfriend loophole” to prevent any individual subject to a domestic violence restraining order from owning a gun.

    • Provide incentives for states to create “red flag” laws intended to keep weapons away from individuals who are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

    • Create criminal penalties for straw purchases and gun trafficking.

    • Provide approximately $13 billion for school safety, mental health, and crisis intervention programs. (POLITICO, June 24)

Roundtable Response

Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer
  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer issued a statement last month in the wake of the recent tragedies in Uvalde, TX and Buffalo, NY, calling for Congress to “set politics aside” and pass legislation to “remove weapons of war from America’s cities and communities.” (Roundtable Weekly, May 27).

  • After Congress passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act today, DeBoer stated, “This new law is an important step forward. It is not as strong as many would like, but it does break years of legislative stalemate and should help reduce gun violence and enhance gun safety.”

“We commend Congress for this bipartisan action, and we urge policymakers to continue to focus on common sense ways to reduce crime, address mental illness, and increase safety for all Americans,” DeBoer added.

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Policy Landscape

Rising Inflation Threatens Biden Infrastructure Plan as White House Aims to Combat Price Pressures

Highway construction usa

As rising inflation diminishes the spending power of the trillion-dollar bipartisan infrastructure law enacted seven months ago, the Biden administration continues to work on a potential reconciliation deal with congressional Democrats that could combat price pressures and revive parts of the president’s agenda. (BGov, June 23 and Politico, June 17) 

Rising Construction Costs & Labor Shortages 

  • The costs of gas, food and other consumer staples surged to a four-decade high last month, registering an 8.6% increase from 12 months earlier. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 14)

  • Rising inflation is also increasing construction costs, which dilutes the buying power of states to implement federal aid on large infrastructure projects. States are receiving project bids up to 30% above their original expectations from contractors citing supply problems, spiking material costs, and labor shortages. (BGov, June 23 and Politico, June 17)

  • An analysis by the Associated Builders and Contractors of recent labor data shows construction prices jumped 21% from a year ago, while nonresidential construction prices registered a 21.9% increase. Iron and steel prices were up 103% from 2020, while concrete increased 17% from two years ago. (Associated Builders and Contractors and Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 14)

  • The Biden administration is seeking to support industries that may experience increased demand from new infrastructure investment—and assist workers acutely affected by the pandemic. The White House recently announced a “Talent Pipeline Challenge” initiative that aims to connect employers to organizations that offer job training through unions, industry associations, and community colleges for construction and jobs. (White House fact sheet and Bloomberg Law, June 17)

  • White House infrastructure czar Mitch Landrieu told Bloomberg this week, “As long as there is a financial crunch on supply stuff and on inflation stuff, it’s going to affect everything that we’re doing in the $1.2 trillion at some point in time. Over the long haul, we think that will ease itself.” (BGov, June 23)

  • Similarly, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “The tightness we’re experiencing today is not what you would see across the five-year life of this funding, let alone the longer life of the construction projects themselves.” (Politico, June 17) 

Legislative Goal 

US Capitol Building
  • White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese addressed administration efforts to combat inflation on June 19 with CBS News’ Face the Nation. He said, “The single most impactful thing that we could do right now is to work with Congress to pass legislation that would lower the costs of things that families are facing right now” such as prescription drugs and utility costs. (CBS transcript of Deese interview, June 19)

  • The legislation Deese referenced is a scaled-back reconciliation package that may include provisions on climate, deficit reduction, and prescription drug costs—and reportedly is the focus of talks involving Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). (Roundtable Weekly, June 17)

  • The big four Congressional leaders (Schumer, McConnell, Pelosi and McConnell) met on Tuesday and appear increasingly close to reaching agreement on a separate $50 billion bill to finance increased R&D spending, semiconductor production, and measures to address economic competitiveness with China. (Reuters, June 21)

  • Inflation also dominated the concerns of policymakers this week during testimony by Fed Chair Jerome Powell before the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee. (C-Span, June 22 and June 23

Powell stated, “Inflation has obviously surprised to the upside over the past year, and further surprises could be in store. We therefore will need to be nimble in responding to incoming data and the evolving outlook. And we will strive to avoid adding uncertainty in what is already an extraordinarily challenging and uncertain time.” (Federal Reserve written testimony

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Climate Risk Reporting

More than 10,000 Stakeholders—Including Members of Congress—Weigh in on SEC Proposed Climate Rule

SEC Climate Disclosure Comments Reference page

Congressional lawmakers recently submitted comments to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding its proposed rule that would require all registered companies to disclose material financial risks related to climate change. Overall, the SEC has received about 10,000 responses on the climate reporting proposal. (AP, June 17, Wall Street Journal, June 21 and SEC docket with list of organizations and individual comments

The Real Estate Roundtable submitted its comments to the SEC on June 10. (Roundtable Weekly, June 10

Views from Congress, State AGs 

  • More than 130 House Republicans wrote to SEC Chair Gary Gensler on June 15, asking him to rescind the climate disclosure proposal. “It is Congress' job to set our environmental policy, not the job of unelected regulators,” according to the House letter. They have also called for a hearing on the SEC’s proposal. (E&E News, May 10)

  • A nearly equal number of House Democrats countered in their own letter, urging the SEC “to finalize the rule as quickly as possible.”

  • Over in the Senate, Republicans expressed their opposition in an April 5 letter.

  • Meanwhile, various Democratic Senators submitted several separate comments on June 17. One of their letters maintains that the proposal does not go far enough and should include a specific quantitative threshold for mandatory disclosures of Scope 3 emissions.

  • State Attorneys General have similarly expressed dueling opinions. (Democratic State AGs and Republican State AGs 

CRE Response 

SEC screens

The Biden administration is expected to push forward with a final rule that could be issued later this year.

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GAO Recommends Government Assessment of Federal Backstop for Catastrophic Cyberattacks

GAO cyber study cover

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended in a June 21 report that the federal government should assess the need for a potential insurance backstop for cyberattacks on critical infrastructure. (GAO summary “Cyber Insurance: Action Needed to Assess Potential Federal Response to Catastrophic Attacks”)

Growing Cyber Threats

cyber attack image
  • With the growing proliferation of cyberattacks, the challenge of mitigating and managing this expanding risk poses an increasing challenge to the U.S. economy and real estate.

  • Insurers and the government's terrorism risk insurance program originally established under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) may not be able to cover the expanding range of such losses. For example, TRIA may only cover cyberattacks if they can be considered "terrorism" under its defined program criteria.

  • TRIA was reauthorized in 2019 and extended for seven years through 2027. The legislation included a request for a study on evolving cyber terrorism risks. (Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism)

  • The Roundtable has raised concerns about the need for policyholders to have access to effective insurance products to help manage the risks of catastrophic cyberattacks—particularly in the context of TRIA-backed coverage for cyber terrorism attacks. (See May 16, 2022 joint comment letter on “2022 Report on the Effectiveness of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program”)

  • This month’s GAO report acknowledges that although some cyber incident costs are covered in part by the private cyber insurance market, growing cyber threats have created uncertainty in this evolving market.

  • The report also notes that cyber incidents can spill over from the initial target to economically linked firms, thereby magnifying damage and threats to the overall economy. “Cyber insurance and the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program (TRIP)—the government backstop for losses from terrorism—are both limited in their ability to cover potentially catastrophic losses from systemic cyberattacks,” the report adds. (See report summary)

Federal Insurance Backstop

  • Federal agencies “have not assessed the extent to which risks to critical infrastructure from catastrophic cyber incidents and potential financial exposures warrant a federal insurance response,” the report states.

  • GAO states a government study that addresses a federal insurance response should include clear criteria for coverage, specific cybersecurity requirements, and a dedicated funding mechanism with concessions from all market participants.

  • The report concludes that the Department of the Treasury’s Federal Insurance Office (FIO) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) should jointly assess the cyberattack risks that warrant a federal insurance response, and inform Congress of the results of their assessment.

The Roundtable’s Homeland Security Task Force discussed the issue of cybersecurity and a potential federal backstop during its June 17 meeting, held in conjunction with The Roundtable’s 2022 Annual Meeting. (Roundtable Weekly, June 17)

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