The Real Estate Roundtable Suspends Political Support to Members of Congress Who Objected to Electoral College Certification
Inauguration Activities to Include Nationwide Illumination of Buildings to Honor COVID-19 Victims; Roundtable Members Asked to Participate
President Trump Faces Second Impeachment Trial as President-elect Biden Proposes $1.9 Trillion Pandemic Aid Package
House Ways and Means Democrats Release Legislative Framework, Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden Will Pursue Capital Gains Changes
Roundtable Weekly
January 15, 2021
The Real Estate Roundtable Suspends Political Support to Members of Congress Who Objected to Electoral College Certification

DC Capitol Building

The Real Estate Roundtable announced on Tuesday that it “will suspend all political contributions to Members of Congress whose votes attempted to subvert the validly expressed will of the American people in selecting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the nation’s next president and vice president.” (Roundtable statement, Jan. 12)

  • The Jan. 12 statement continued, “In the time since this armed insurrection, we have become even more appalled and our anger is amplified by the dismissive reaction of many of our national leaders, beginning with the votes cast by a band of Senators and Representatives who continue to fuel baseless claims of election fraud by refusing to certify the clear results of last November’s election.”

  • The Roundtable’s statement suspending political support follows its denunciation last week of the January 6 attack on the Capitol and its commitment to “support[ ] efforts to bring about more measured tone and civility in policy debates at all levels of government, and policy actions that are balanced and sustainable.”

  • In the Jan. 8 statement, Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer also noted, “We will continue to work with policymakers representing the full spectrum of political views. However, we do not intend to help advance initiatives proposed by policy makers uninterested in seeking bipartisan consensus." (Roundtable Weekly, Jan. 8
  • GlobeSt reported on The Roundtable’s suspension of certain political contributions, noting that “the industry—as well as the larger business community—has not only voiced disgust with what happened but backed those sentiments with hard actions.”
  • CoStar reported, “While Trump's business is now a focus of the fallout, the politically focused repercussions are still coming. The Washington., D.C.-based Real Estate Roundtable, commercial real estate’s most prominent national lobbying group, suspended all political contributions to members of Congress” who objected to certifying the vote of the Electoral College.

Industry and Private Sector Response

  • According to The Real Deal, (TRD) Nareit stated, “As a result of these recent events… Nareit’s political action committee, REITPAC, will immediately suspend political contributions to all members of Congress who voted to deny certification of electoral votes cast by the Electoral College.”
  • TRD also reported that the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) stated it has paused all PAC disbursements, not only those connected with legislators who objected to the electoral votes and that NMHC added, “We will undertake a thorough review of our strategy for the 117th Congress.”
  • The Mortgage Bankers Association told the publication, “MBA has decided to pause disbursements from its political action committee, MORPAC, and will undertake a careful review with our member leadership of our giving strategies for the 117th Congress.” (The Real Deal, Jan. 15)
  • International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) CEO Tom McGee announced on Jan. 11 that the organization will be “suspending all ICSC PAC donations for the next three months.” McGee stated that “during this historically challenging period…the focus of politicians should be on governing and uniting our nation, not campaigning and raising money.”
  • The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) on Jan. 6 stated, “We urge for calm and fully support the U.S. Capitol Police and the National Guard to restore safety to the city of Washington, D.C.”  On Jan, 12, The Hill reported that NAR “paused its federal political disbursements and will monitor events in Washington in the days and weeks ahead.”
  • Cushman & Wakefield told The Washington Post this week, “Cushman & Wakefield has made the decision to no longer do business with The Trump Organization.”
  • Axios (Jan. 14) summarized the corporations that have “cut off political donations after the Capitol siege – including Marriott International, which will “pause donations ‘to those who voted against certification of the election.’”

The repercussions of the political transition and the industry’s 2021 policy agenda will be a focus of discussion during The Roundtable’s Jan. 26-27 State of the Industry Meeting (virtual attendance).

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Inauguration Activities to Include Nationwide Illumination of Buildings to Honor COVID-19 Victims; Roundtable Members Asked to Participate

Empire State building illuminated

The Presidential Inaugural Committee has announced it is hosting a memorial to illuminate buildings in cities and towns across the country next Tuesday evening, as part of a series of online and virtual events for the Biden-Harris inauguration.  The building illumination is intended as a “national moment of unity and remembrance” in honor of the American people who have fallen to COVID-19.  (Inaugural Committee fact sheet and Building Owner Participation Form)

  • The nationwide memorial to illuminate buildings will start at 5:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. The lighting ceremony will then roll westward from time zone to time zone, taking place at 5:30 pm local time in each zone.
  • The Inaugural Committee has requested support from Roundtable members to participate in the memorial to honor those who died from the coronavirus. Participation in the event is voluntary. 
  • Building owners and managers willing to illuminate their assets are asked to complete this short Google docs form to be submitted to the Inaugural Committee.
  • The Committee also requests that owners and managers who participate in the event record or photograph their building illuminations to share on social media platforms.
  • The ceremony will be timed with a lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting pool in Washington, D.C., and the ringing of bells in churches and towns nationwide to commemorate the moment of remembrance.

Roundtable members who opt to participate on January 19 are kindly requested to inform our staff by email (Duane Desiderio, Senior Vice President and Counsel, ddesiderio@rer.org) and (Abigail Grenadier, Communications Director, agrenadier@rer.org).  We would like to keep track of the building square footage participating in this voluntary event and our organization’s collective involvement.

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President Trump Faces Second Impeachment Trial as President-elect Biden Proposes $1.9 Trillion Pandemic Aid Package

Capitol armed guards

House Democrats, joined by 10 Republicans, on Jan. 13 voted 232-197 to impeach President Trump for a historic second time on charges that he incited last week’s insurrection at the Capitol that left five people dead, including a Capitol Hill police officer. (NBC News and Fortune, Jan. 13)

  • No date has been set yet for Trump’s second impeachment trial in the Senate, although it could begin on the day of the inauguration of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. The timing is uncertain as two new Democratic Senators from Georgia, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, await state electoral certification early next week. Vice President-elect Harris’s replacement—California Secretary of State Alex Padilla—is expected to be sworn in shortly after the inauguration.

  • Some Democrats want a later trial date to give the incoming Administration time to establish their policy agenda and work on immediate COVID-19 priorities. (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 14)   
  • “We are working with Republicans to try to find a path forward,” said a spokesperson for Sen. Chuck Schumer, who will become majority leader. (AP, Jan. 14)
  • As the Jan. 20 Biden-Harris inauguration approaches, 21,000 National Guard troops have been authorized for deployment to Washington, which is approximately three times the total number of American troops deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria. Troops have not been stationed in the Capitol since the US Civil War in the 1860s. (Washington Post, Military Times, Jan. 14 and New York Times, Jan. 13)

    [Photo above: Virginia National Guard Airmen assigned to the 192nd Security Forces Squadron, 192nd Mission Support Group, 192nd Wing help to secure the grounds near the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 13, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Bryan Myhr)]
  • The Roundtable’s Homeland Security Task Force and Real Estate Information Sharing and Analysis Center (RE-ISAC) has been working with groups who are preparing and planning for potential related protests which may occur in the District of Columbia and in State capitals across the United States. (Homeland Security Today, After the Capitol Riot, What Is Your State of Preparedness?, Jan. 14)
  • As the combined force strength of National Guard military personnel and federal and state law enforcement agencies continues to expand in Washington, DC, the attention is shifting to making sure that State capital complexes, government facilities (owned and leased) and adjacent properties are on alert, well-defended and are supporting this effort, as intelligence continues to be collected.

Biden’s “American Rescue Plan”

  • President-elect Biden last night proposed a $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package that may attract Senate Republican opposition over Democratic priorities, such as aid to state and local governments. (Bloomberg Law, Jan. 14)
  • The latest COVID-19 stimulus proposal—called the “American Rescue Plan”—would build on earlier relief packages and provide emergency measures to meet immediate health care and economic needs. The incoming Administration is expected to unveil a broader plan in February before Biden’s first appearance before a joint session of Congress that will focus on long-term goals such as infrastructure and climate change. (B-Gov and The Washington Post, Jan. 14)

A summary prepared by Brownstein Hyatt Farber Shreck (Jan. 14) describes Biden’s proposed American Rescue Plan as including: 

  • $350 billion for state and local governments
  • $160 billion in funding for a national program of vaccination, testing and other coronavirus containment efforts
  • $30 billion in rental and utility assistance for low- and moderate-income households, with an extension of the federal residential eviction moratorium (currently set to expire on Jan. 31) until Sept. 30, 2021
  • $1,400 per person stimulus checks for qualifying individuals (in addition to the $600 approved in December)
  • $400 per week in supplementary unemployment benefits through September
  • $130 billion to help schools reopen
  • $25 billion for childcare providers
  • $20 billion for hard-hit public transit agencies
  • $15 billion in directs grants to small businesses, and a $35 billion investment in state and local small business financing programs to leverage additional lending
  • The proposal would also raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and expand food assistance, child tax credits, and medical and family leave. (Washington Post, Jan. 14)
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Jan. 14 supported Biden’s stimulus package proposal. “The emergency relief framework announced by the incoming Biden-Harris administration tonight is the right approach,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement. “We will get right to work to turn President-elect Biden’s vision into legislation that will pass both chambers and be signed into law.” (Reuters, Jan. 14)
  • Biden’s proposal follows the most recent COVID relief package that Congress passed before the holidays, part of omnibus legislation that funds federal operations through September 30, 2021. (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 22, 2020)

SBA Reopens Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, will re-open the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal today, Jan. 15, to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications. (SBA news release, Jan. 13)
  • The portal will fully open on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 to all participating PPP lenders to submit First and Second Draw loan applications to SBA.
  • SBA granted initial PPP access earlier in the week for lending in low-income and underserved communities, and to allow “second draw” loans for qualifying small businesses that received credit under earlier phases of the lending program. (Journal of Accountancy, Jan. 13)

The deadline for Second Draw PPP loan applications has been extended to March 31, 2021. (NexTech, Jan. 12 and SBA Interim final rule). Updated PPP Lender forms, guidance, and resources are available at www.sba.gov/ppp and www.treasury.gov/cares.

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House Ways and Means Democrats Release Legislative Framework, Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden Will Pursue Capital Gains Changes

Wyden and Neal

Congressional tax-writing committees this week began unveiling their agendas for the 117th Congress, with Democrats poised to control the majority in the both House and Senate. [Photo: Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), left, and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), right]

  • In the House, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) on Jan. 11 released a 14-page legislative framework describes an agenda to address health and economic inequities in the United States, particularly those rooted in racial disparities. (Ways & Means news release, Jan 11)
  • The framework, entitled “A Bold Vision for a Legislative Path Toward Health and Economic Equity,” lays out the pillars and policy priorities that will steer the committee’s work in the new Congress.  The economic proposals focus on economic justice for workers, economic justice for children and families, retirement security, investment in communities, and environmental justice.
  • Specific proposals in the legislative framework include increasing the supply of affordable housing through the low-income housing tax credit; providing enhanced bond incentives to state and local governments to address environmental stressors; and expanding tax credits for families with children, child care expenses, higher education costs, and more.  
  • Chairman Neal writes in his foreword, “The framework we present here is Ways and Means Committee Democrats’ plan to make our nation a more just and equitable place. Some actions we can pursue almost immediately. Other advancements may take longer to become law. But inaction is not an option. Complacency cannot be tolerated.”

Senate Finance Committee

In the Senate, incoming Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) outlined his tax agenda during a Jan. 13 call with reporters, including plans to move forward with an increase in the corporate tax rate and major changes in the taxation of individual capital gains.

  • Wyden presented and released a detailed white paper outlining his plan to reform the taxation of capital gains in September, 2019.  (News Conference Video, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Sept. 12, 2019)
  • His proposal, entitled “Treat Wealth Like Wages,” would raise the top tax rate on capital gains (currently 20%) and create parity with the tax rate on wages and other ordinary income.  In addition, his plan would impose annual mark-to-market taxation of capital assets for taxpayers above certain income thresholds.  Both proposals represent dramatic departures from existing tax law. 
  • During this week’s press call, Wyden said, “If you are a nurse in America taking care of COVID patients, you don't get to defer paying your taxes. If you're a billionaire, you can defer, defer and defer some more and then pretty much never pay any taxes at all.” 
  • A mark-to-mark system would require taxpayers to pay tax on the annual appreciation of capital assets – regardless of whether the property has been sold and cash is available to pay the levy – or impose a “look-back charge” on illiquid assets when a sale occurs or certain revaluation events take place. It could greatly diminish the incentive to start a busines or invest in any asset with a long, productive life. Such a dramatic change in the basic rules for how capital is taxed could have severe unintended consequences for future economic growth and job creation. ( Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 13, 2019)
  • Wyden added he would also pursue raising the current 21% corporate tax rate and change the tax treatment of carried interest.
  • Any tax changes in the Senate will have to advance through a 50-50 chamber. How committees will work through their arrangements and procedures has yet to be determined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 
  • More details related to Senate and House leadership positions and their respective committees can be found on JDSupra’s “Welcome to the 117th Congress” (Jan. 8).

Sen. Ron Wyden is scheduled to speak with Roundtable members at the organiation’s upcoming State of the Industry business meeting on Jan. 26. Additionally, The Roundtable’s Tax Policy Advisory Committee meeting will address the 117th Congress’ tax agenda on Jan. 27 (all virtual).

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