The Real Estate Roundtable’s 2021 State of the Industry (SOI) meeting this week featured discussions with three incoming Senate Committee chairs who oversee banking, energy, housing, and tax legislation – along with other national leaders on a wide range of policy matters. The Roundtable’s policy advisory committees also met virtually to discuss these matters as well as the Biden Administration’s COVID response initiatives, the prospects for legislating in a 50-50 Senate, and homeland security concerns in the aftermath of the January 6 attack on the Capitol. (Watch all SOI videos on The Roundtable’s YouTube Channel.)
- Roundtable Chair Debra Cafaro (Chairman and CEO, Ventas, Inc.) launched the SOI meeting on Jan. 26, acknowledging the health, economic and equality crises that have engulfed the nation over the past year. (video)
- Cafaro also emphasized how The Roundtable was one of the first industry groups to denounce the attack and suspend political support for any members of Congress not interested in seeking bipartisan solutions to the nation’s significant challenges. (Roundtable Weekly, January 15)
- Cafaro was joined by Roundtable Chair-Elect John F. Fish (Chairman & CEO, SUFFOLK) and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer (photo above) in announcing that the organization’s 2021 National Policy Agenda will soon address issues in the areas of tax, capital and credit, energy and climate, homeland security, infrastructure and housing.
Policy Issues & Featured Speakers
The SOI meeting attracted nearly 300 participants and included the following speakers:
- Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – Incoming Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee – spoke about the national eviction moratorium and ensuring citizens have access to affordable housing (video). [Roundtable President and CEO testified before the Senate Banking Committee in Sept. 2020 about policy recommendations that could encourage a national recovery from the economic effects of the pandemic.]
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), photo above – Incoming Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee – is one of the key centrist Senators who is expected to play a significant role in forging bipartisan legislation in the 117th Congress, as the Biden Administration moves swiftly on its pandemic aid plan and clean energy initiatives to boost job creation. (video)
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) – Incoming Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee – will have a principal role on Capitol Hill on tax, trade, and spending. He welcomed fact-based reports showing the link between real estate, the pandemic and tax policy. (video)
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb – 23rd Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – spoke with Roundtable Chair Debra Cafaro on the emergence of vaccines, concerns about coronavirus variants, and the prospects for fuller re-opening of the economy.
- Penny Pritzker – 38th Secretary of Commerce (2013-2017), Founder and Chairman of PSP Partners and former Roundtable Board Member – provided her insight on leadership, international trade agreement, the climate crisis and racial inequity. (video)
- Steven Pearlstein – Business and Economics Columnist, The Washington Post – discussed the challenges ahead for bipartisan policymaking in a split Senate with The Roundtable’s Board of Directors, reflecting his recent column, “Five (somewhat) upbeat predictions for 2021.” (video)
Roundtable Policy Advisory Committees
The Roundtable’s policy advisory committee meetings analyzed national issues impacting CRE in detail with the following high-level congressional and agency staff:
- Research and Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committees (RECPAC)
Rep. French Hill (R-AR) provided his insights on the 117th Congress from his perspective as a member of the House Financial Services Committee. Additionally, D. Michael Van Konynenburg (Eastdil Secured), Brian Kingston (Brookfield) and Michael Bilerman (Citi) provided their perspectives on the market cycle. (video)
- Tax Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC)
Tax legislative priorities affecting CRE were a focus of a discussion moderated by Russ Sullivan (Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck) with Tiffany Smith, chief tax counsel for Senate Finance Committee Democrats and Andrew Grossman, chief tax counsel for House Ways and Means Committee Democrats. (video)
- Homeland Security Task Force (HSTF) and Risk Management Working Group (RMWG)
This joint meeting was briefed on potential post-inauguration threats from a representative of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. Additionally, Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior adviser to the president of the RAND Corporation, addressed the attack on the U.S. Capitol and the implications for real estate.
- Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC), photo above
U.S. Energy Information Administration speakers updated SPAC on the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), the only federal data that takes stock of U.S. commercial real estate. Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) trends were also discussed, as well as the need for voluntary federal standards to help unify a patchwork of state and local laws addressing buildings and their carbon footprint. (video)
Next on The Roundtable’s FY2021 meeting calendar is the Spring Meeting on April 20. This virtual meeting is restricted to Roundtable-level members only.
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