Congress Struggles to Assemble Stopgap Funding Measure as Policymakers Negotiate Elements of Potential Tax Package
Building Emissions Policies Picking Up Steam in 2024
RER President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer to Receive Commercial Property Executive’s Lifetime Achievement Award
Roundtable Weekly
January 12, 2024
Congress Struggles to Assemble Stopgap Funding Measure as Policymakers Negotiate Elements of Potential Tax Package

House and Senate lawmakers are discussing a short-term stopgap measure aimed at avoiding government shutdown deadlines on Jan. 19 and Feb. 2, which would also buy time to negotiate additional funding through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Meanwhile, with tax filing season slated to begin Jan. 29, congressional tax writers reported making progress this week on a potential tax package that includes measures on business interest deductibility, bonus depreciation, and the child tax credit. (CQ | PoliticoPro | TaxNotes, Jan. 11)

Funding Challenge

  • Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, said on Tuesday that a stopgap bill with funding until March might be necessary. “What that looks like next week, and where it originates, House or Senate, remains to be seen.” Thune said. (Roll Call, Jan. 9 and PunchBowl News, Jan. 10)
  • Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced yesterday that the Senate will consider a “continuing resolution” to keep the government open. “A shutdown is looming over us, starting on Jan. 19, about a week away. Unfortunately, it has become crystal clear that it will take more than a week to finish the appropriations process.” (CBS News and CQ, Jan. 11)
  • In the House, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is struggling to obtain the approval of conservative Republicans on a spending agreement announced on Sunday for a $1.66 trillion spending plan for the federal government. (The Hill, Jan. 11 and AP, Jan. 8))
  • Republicans currently hold a 220-seat majority in the House while Democrats control 213, which means Johnson can afford to lose only three votes in his caucus for the GOP to pass legislation in the lower chamber by party-line vote. (AP, Jan 11 | CNN, Jan. 9 | AlterNet, Jan. 2)

Tax Package Negotiations

  • On Wednesday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO), above, presented their members with an outline of a potential, three-year $70 billion tax package. 
  • Disagreements continue over the scope of a potential child tax credit and low-income housing tax credit in exchange for partial restorations of business tax credits such as business interest deductibility and bonus depreciation. (MarketWatch and PunchBowl, Jan. 11 | PoliticoPro and Wall Street Journal, Jan. 10)
  • Issues that remain under consideration include a Roundtable-supported expansion of the low-income housing tax credit and the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT). Sen. Wyden and senior congressional staff will discuss tax legislation with Roundtable members during The Roundtable’s all-member 2024 State of the Industry Meeting on Jan. 23-24.

Preview of Coming Tax Battles

PWC 2024 Tax Policy Outlook figure 8
  • Current discussions among congressional tax negotiators are a precursor for a much larger challenge next year, when 23 different provisions in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will change or expire at the end of 2025, including the deduction for pass-through business income and the cap on the SALT deduction. (Roundtable Weekly, May 26)
  • PWC emphasized the stakes in next year’s tax negotiations in its “2024 Tax Policy Outlook” released yesterday. PwC’s National Tax Services Co-Leader Rohit Kumar told PoliticoPro that the current tax package under consideration would amount to only a “rounding error” when compared to the value of all the TCJA provisions. Today’s Wall Street Journal estimated there are $6 trillion in taxes at stake in this year’s elections.
  • Policymakers’ efforts to pass government funding and negotiate a tax package come as office vacancies hit a record high in the fourth quarter of last year, according to a Moody’s Analytics released Jan. 8.

The Moody’s report shows the national office vacancy rate rose 40 bps to a record-breaking 19.6 percent. The new record shatters the previous rate of 19.3% set twice previously—and reflects changing trends in business needs and the recent shift towards in remote work arrangements. (Wall Street Journal and ConnectCRE, Jan. 8)

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Building Emissions Policies Picking Up Steam in 2024

A confluence of mandatory rules and voluntary guidelines pertaining to real estate’s climate impacts—including a first-ever U.S. definition for the term Zero Emissions Building (“ZEB”) and an imminent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) greenhouse gas disclosure rule—will be a key focus of policy makers in 2024.

ZEB Definition

  • On Jan. 9, GlobeSt reported that The Roundtable supports the direction of the Biden administration’s recently released voluntary ZEB draft definition pertinent to private sector existing buildings and new construction. (Roundtable Weekly, Jan. 5)
  • The ZEB definition proposes voluntary criteria for buildings to be highly energy efficient and powered solely by clean energy sources to attain zero emissions status.

  • The Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) is working on comments (due Feb. 5) in response to the Energy Department’s draft.

SEC & Scope 3

  • The SEC is expected to release its long-anticipated climate risk disclosure rule this spring. (Roundtable Weekly, March 10, 2023) On Jan. 11, Bisnow quoted Roundtable Senior Vice President and Counsel Duane Desiderio about the SEC’s impending rule and its impact on CRE and other industries. 
  • Desiderio explained to Bisnow, “Let’s hope the SEC delivers some workable rules and brings rationality to this space, especially regarding Scope 3 indirect emissions” that cover sources in a company’s supply chain beyond its immediate control. Desiderio added, “The market is certainly moving in the direction of the SEC rule.” (RER Fact Sheets: SEC’s Proposed Rule and California’s Climate Disclosure bills)

179D & BPS

  • Another federal rule expected in the coming weeks concerns the section 179D tax deduction for energy efficient buildings, substantially revamped by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 1).The Internal Revenue Service will propose a regulation for comment that addresses how existing building retrofits may qualify for this incentive.
  • Axios (Jan. 9) reported this week about trends at the local level to enact building performance standards (BPS) such as LL 97 in New York City. While Congress has not granted authority for a national emissions mandate on buildings, more cities and states are expected to run with these efforts in 2024. (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 15).
  • A report from the Rhodium Group this week shows U.S. GHG emissions decreased nearly 2 percent year-on-year in 2023. The report also notes that emissions from commercial and residential buildings dropped by 4 percent, which the researchers attributed primarily to a mild winter. (PoliticoPro and The Hill, Jan. 10)  

SCOTUS to Consider Federal Agency “Deference”

The Supreme Court
  • A wild card in the effectiveness and durability of federal regulations—not just in the climate arena, but from any U.S. agency—will be at the fore this spring when SCOTUS renders a decision in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo.
  • Loper will consider whether an administrative law doctrine from 1984 known as “Chevron deference,” which grants wide latitude to federal agencies when crafting rules to implement laws passed by Congress, should be overruled. (SCOTUS Blog, May 1, 2023)
  • The Department of Commerce stated in their brief that overruling Chevron “would be a convulsive shock to the legal system.” Oral argument will take place next Wednesday, with a decision expected by early summer. (SCOTUS Blog, Jan. 8, 2024)

Officials from the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Department and leading non-governmental organizations will address issues at the nexus of buildings and climate policy on January 24 at the Roundtable’s all-member 2024 State of the Industry Meeting.

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RER President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer to Receive Commercial Property Executive’s Lifetime Achievement Award
Jeffrey DeBoer, President and CEO of The Real Estate Roundtable

Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, above, will receive Commercial Property Executive’s Lifetime Achievement Award during CPE’s virtual 2023 Influence Awards on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 1 pm ET, when he will deliver the keynote address. (Register here for the event)

As the founding President and CEO of The Real Estate Roundtable and in previous Washington-based positions, DeBoer has been at the forefront of national policy affecting the real estate industry for the past 40 years.

The prominent Capitol Hill publication, The Hill recently recognized DeBoer as one of the "Top Lobbyists" in Washington, DC for 2023. This was the sixth consecutive year DeBoer has been included in the list. (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 8)

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