The protracted vote process for Republican House Speaker this week stalled the start of the new GOP House majority in a narrowly divided 118th Congress, portending difficulties ahead for policymakers to reach agreement on raising the debt limit this summer and passing FY24 funding for the government by Sept. 30. This speaker election is the longest since 1859. (Semafor, Jan. 6 | The Hill, Jan. 5 | Bloomberg Law, Jan. 3)
House Challenges Ahead
- Until a House speaker is elected, new representatives cannot be sworn in, lawmakers cannot introduce bills, and committee chairs (including leadership of the important tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee) cannot be confirmed. (BGov, Jan. 6 and ABC News, Jan. 5)
- Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), an adviser to the Senate GOP leadership team, said raising the debt limit with a slim, five-seat Republican majority in the House that can be leveraged by a small group of staunch conservatives, “will probably be the single biggest challenge the House will have.” (The Hill, Jan. 5)
- Failure to raise the U.S. debt limit would lead to a first-ever default, causing financial chaos in the global economy. In 2011, an impasse between Republicans and President Obama over increasing the debt limit led to a temporary downgrade of the credit of the United States. The crisis ended after an agreement was reached to cut more than $2 trillion in spending over a decade. (New York Times, Dec. 9, 2022 and Washington Post, Dec. 5, 2022 | Congressional Research Service, Nov. 22, 2022)
- Additionally, funding for the government expires on Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year. A legislative standoff on spending priorities for FY24 after Sept. 30 could lead to either a “Continuing Resolution” to fund the government programs at current levels or a partial shutdown. (CQ, Dec. 29, 2022)
The Regulatory Front
- The new Republican majority in the House is expected to bring intense oversight of government programs funded by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed by Congress in August—and increased scrutiny of proposed regulations that could impact commercial real estate. (Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 12, 2022)
- The IRA included nearly $370 billion in climate spending—the largest federal clean energy investment in U.S. history—with measures important to CRE. [See Roundtable Fact Sheets on the IRA & CRE: Clean Energy Tax Incentives (Sept. 20) and Revenue Provisions (Aug. 17)]
- The Real Estate Roundtable submitted extensive comments to Treasury and the IRS on Nov. 4 that address various clean energy tax incentives in the IRA. (Nov. 4 letter and Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 12)
- The Roundtable also plans to submit comments by Jan. 18 to the Environmental Protection Agency on EPA federal grant programs that could impact CRE.
- Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) climate disclosure regulations are now expected by April. The proposed rules would require all registered companies to disclose material financial risks related to climate change, and may include new disclosure requirements for “Scope 3” GHG emissions. The Roundtable submitted extensive comments to the SEC about the proposal on June 10. (Roundtable Weekly, June 10, 2022)
Policymaking in the 118th Congress and regulatory proposals affecting CRE will be among the topics discussed during The Roundtable’s Jan. 24-25 State of the Industry Meeting in Washington, DC.
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