Congress Passes $1.5 Trillion Omnibus Funding Package With EB-5 and LIBOR Legislation
Congress this week passed a $1.5 trillion “omnibus” spending package that would fund government programs through September and provide $13.6 billion for emergency Ukraine assistance. The omni also includes Roundtable-supported language to address the transition away from the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and reform the EB-5 Regional Center Program. (See separate Roundtable Weekly story below on EB-5)
Omni Funding & Ukraine
- The omni passed the House on a bipartisan basis on Wednesday and the Senate last night after months of negotiations. President Biden is expected to sign the 2,741-page omnibus spending package (H.R. 2471) today to avoid a government shutdown, since previously allocated funding expires at midnight. (Wall Street Journal, March 9 and March 10)
- Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer said, “The Roundtable applauds these bipartisan actions by lawmakers to shore up funding for government operations, and pass positive changes impacting EB-5 and LIBOR. We look forward to Congress turning its focus to other essential issues facing American businesses, workers, local communities and CRE, as outlined in our recently released 2022 Policy Agenda.
- “The Roundtable also fully supports the billions in federal aid to Ukraine as its citizens continue to bravely stand up against Russian aggression. As we bear witness to the tragic violence of the invasion, The Roundtable encourages its members and all industry stakeholders to contribute to charities involved in Ukrainian humanitarian relief,” DeBoer added. (VetVoice Foundation)
- The Roundtable on March 25 will hold an open Zoom discussion on the situation in Ukraine with Lieutenant Colonel (USA, Ret.) Alexander Vindman, a Senior Advisor at VoteVets and the VetVoice Foundation. More details will be forthcoming on how to register.
Omni & CRE
The omni legislation also includes the Roundtable-supported EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, which would overhaul and reinstate the regional center program for five years. (See The Roundtable’s EB-5 Fact Sheet)
Another important bill included in the omni is the Adjustable Interest Rate (LIBOR) Act (H.R. 4616), which would provide for an orderly transition of debt contracts away from LIBOR. (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 10, 2021)
The omnibus package would also release an additional $197 billion to be spent over 10 years for energy, transportation, and other programs that were part of last year’s bipartisan infrastructure bill. (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 11)
# # #
Long Overdue EB-5 Regional Center Reforms Included in Omnibus
A reinstatement and major overhaul of the EB-5 investment visa program passed Congress this week as part of the omnibus package that will fund the federal government through Sept 30. President Biden is expected to sign the omni today. (Roundtable news release and EB-5 Fact Sheet)
- The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act is the first significant update to the “regional center” program since its creation by Congress in the early 1990s. The EB-5 language can be found in the Division BB section of the 2022 omnibus appropriations bill.
- The Act reauthorizes regional centers for five years, which expired on June 30, 2021. The EB-5 program reforms are the culmination of years of hard work by a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives who negotiated a pragmatic solution to modernize the investment visa program.
- After President Biden signs the omni, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can re-start its procedures to review the petitions of tens of thousands of overseas investors who have been in limbo on their green card applications since last July.
- The Act also sets new program requirements to safeguard national security, deter fraud, and promote urban and rural development with EB-5 financing provided by overseas investors. [Roundtable EB-5 Fact Sheet]
Roundtable Commends Reforms
- “The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act gives our country a competitive edge in the global marketplace for foreign capital and it will attract investments from abroad to create jobs here at home,” said Real Estate Roundtable Chair, John Fish [Chairman and CEO, Suffolk], above, “American workers in low-income neighborhoods, downtown business districts and rural markets will benefit from EB-5 modernization because it will bring critical financing to support infrastructure and other economic development projects throughout the country.” (Roundtable news release, March 11)
- “The Roundtable has advocated for years to clean up the regional center program and we applaud congressional passage of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act,” said Roundtable President and CEO, Jeffrey D. DeBoer. “The Act strikes a bipartisan compromise to get the program back on track – and reduces the litigation risk from existing investors who have been waiting in limbo on their visa applications since the program expired last July.”
“We thank House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for their bipartisan, bicameral agreement to include comprehensive EB-5 reform in the omnibus appropriations package,” DeBoer continued. “We commend the authors of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), for their work in crafting a product that has the support from a diverse stakeholder coalition.”
# # #
Roundtable Convenes “Workplace Return” Town Hall Next Week with U.S. Labor Secretary; Industry Coalition Urges Full Capitol Hill Reopening
U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Martin Walsh will address back-to-the-workplace issues in a March 18 virtual town hall with Roundtable members. Participants will also include Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman and CEO, Suffolk); Beacon Capital Partners President and CEO Fred Seigel; Boston Properties CEO Owen Thomas; and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer. Roundtable members were sent an exclusive registration invitation this week via email. (Roundtable Meetings contact)
- “Americans have learned to deal and cope and live with the coronavirus,” Secretary Walsh recently told Insider (March 4). More employees coming back to the office can “add to job creation and job growth” he explained, as restaurants, retail shops, and other small businesses cater to returning workers.
- The reopening theme was also the focus of a March 9 letter to Senate and House leaders signed by over 200 organizations and companies, including The Real Estate Roundtable. The coalition urged lawmakers to fully reopen Capitol Hill buildings by July 11 “in a way that is safe for all with security measures already being used in many state legislatures.” (Coalition letter, March 9)
- In addition to The Roundtable, other real estate organizations signing the letter to re-open Capitol Hill included the American Hotel & Lodging Association; American Resort Development Association; Building Owners and Managers Association; CRE Finance Council; ICSC; NAIOP, Commercial Real Estate Development Association; and the National Apartment Association.
2022 Roundtable Policy Agenda
- Reopening businesses and the country is an important priority noted in The Roundtable's 2022 Policy Agenda: “Connection, Commitment, and Collaboration - Supporting Federal Policy Through Experience and Innovation in 2022” sent this week to Roundtable members.
- In the policy agenda’s introduction, John Fish, above right, and Jeffrey DeBoer, above left, emphasize the national need for a safe and successful return to the physical workplace.
- “Our state and local economies—as well as our long-term global competitiveness—depend heavily on the innovation, collaboration, and productivity fostered by an in-person work environment,” Fish and DeBoer stated.
- The Roundtable’s policy agenda states that the nation’s long-term health, economic growth, and strength of small businesses and local governmental budgets all require safe back-to-workplace encouragement.
Policy Agenda Issues
- The Roundtable’s policy agenda publication outlines our issue priorities for the year ahead that aim to restore economic stability and expand growth opportunities for local communities and the industry. Specific policy sections include:
The Roundtable encourages our members and partner organizations to share the content from our policy agenda on your social media channels or websites by using our communications toolkit. You may also follow us on social media for RER updates and the latest developments in DC via LinkedIn or Twitter:
# # #
Roundtable and Coalition Weigh In on Sweeping SEC Proposals Impacting Private Fund Investors
The Real Estate Roundtable and 12 trade organizations recently responded to a set of sweeping, proposed Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules that would significantly increase the compliance obligations of advisers to “private funds.” (Coalition letter, March 1)
Time Extension Request
- The coalition letter detailed why time extensions are needed for comprehensive responses to two recently introduced SEC NPRMs (“Notice of Proposed Rulemaking”), which include more than 800 questions and an extensive expansion of cost-benefit analysis requests. The SEC provided a tight deadline for stakeholders to respond to the proposed rules.
- The SEC issued two NPRMs on Jan. 26 and Feb. 9 that would significantly change how private funds are regulated. If approved, the proposed rules would require private-equity and hedge-fund managers to provide new statements on fund performance, compensation, fees and expenses. The NPRMs passed the Commission on a 3-1 party-line vote, with one dissenting Republican. (Wall Street Journal and PoliticoPro, Feb. 9)
- Currently, under most conditions, private companies are exempt from registration requirements put forth by the SEC, above – instead, they are regulated at the state level, where registration and disclosure requirements vary by state. The proposed rules would increase the compliance burden for private fund advisers, potentially impeding capital formation. (SEC resources: Jan. 26 News Release | Fact Sheet | Proposed Rule and Feb. 9 News Release | Fact Sheet | Proposed Rule)
- The coalition response provided context to the NPRM requests, noting the deluge of recent SEC regulatory initiatives. The coalition letter stated, “We and our members will need simultaneously to analyze and prepare comments for these proposals as well as other significant proposals on short-selling (with the related re-opened proposal on securities lending), shortening the securities transaction settlement cycle, beneficial ownership reporting, security-based swap position reporting, and cybersecurity risk management (collectively representing more than 1,000 additional pages of text and thousands of additional individual questions from the Commission).”
A “LawFlash” report on the proposed SEC rules is available from Morgan Lewis. The Roundtable’s Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committee (RECPAC) will continue to respond to the SEC’s various proposed regulatory initiatives with its industry and coalition partners.
# # #