Joe Biden Takes Oath as 46th President, Signs Executive Orders on Pandemic Response, Evictions, Climate, Immigration and Racial Equity
Roundtable Members Participate in Nationwide Illumination of Buildings to Honor COVID-19 Victims
Senate Finance Committee Approves Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary; BisNow Webinar Features Roundtableโ€™s DeBoer on Industry Policy Agenda and Biden Administration
Roundtable Weekly
January 22, 2021
Joe Biden Takes Oath as 46th President, Signs Executive Orders on Pandemic Response, Evictions, Climate, Immigration and Racial Equity

U.S. Capitol Biden-Harris Inauguration

On January 20, the peaceful inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States and Kamala Harris as vice president took place on the steps of the Capitol, where two weeks prior a violent mob attempted to overturn the electoral process.

  • President Biden in his inaugural address emphasized themes of national struggle and unity. He stated, “We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. To overcome these challenges – to restore the soul and to secure the future of America – requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity.”

  • Vice President Harris – who is the highest-ranking woman of color in U.S. history – stated during a post-inaugural event, “This, too, is American Aspiration. This is what President Joe Biden has called upon us to summon now. The courage to see beyond crisis. To do what is hard. To do what is good. To unite.” (New York Times, Jan. 21)

Coronavirus Response

The new administration’s top priority is to develop and manage a coordinated, national public health and economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On its first two days in office it issued:

Additional “Day One” Orders

President Biden signs Executive Orders on

In addition to addressing COVID-19, the Biden Administration moved swiftly on “Day One” with 17 Executive Orders (EOs) covering a range of issues.  (New York Times and CQ, Jan. 20) These actions include

  • Extending the federal residential eviction moratorium (scheduled to expire on January 31) through the end of March – with a request to HUD and other agencies to allow forbearance on payments of federally-guaranteed mortgages; 

  • “Restoring science” and “tackling the climate crisis,” such as by rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, and directing the EPA and the Energy Department to reassess Trump-era rules on building energy codes as well as standards for appliance and motor vehicle fuel efficiency;

  • Advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities; and

  • Restoring protection for “Dreamers” under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, ending the ban on travel to the U.S. from primarily Muslim countries, and other immigration-related matters. The Roundtable joined an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court last year urging that DACA protections should be re-instated for immigrants brought to the United States as children. (Roundtable Weekly, June 19, 2020 )

  • (Biden has also proposed a legislative immigration overhaul that would provide a path to citizenship for the undocumented, which has already been met with some GOP opposition and “underscore[s] that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly.” (AP, Jan. 19).


The Biden Administration's initial actions and policy agenda will be a focus of The Roundtable's Jan. 26-27 State of the Industry Meeting (held virtually).  Speakers will include:

  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – Chairman, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee

  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) – Chairman. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) – Chairman, Senate Finance Committee

  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb – 23rd Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

  • Penny Pritzker – 38th Secretary of Commerce (2013-2017); Founder and Chairman of PSP Partners

The Roundtable will also unveil its 2021 National Policy Agenda publication soon, which will address policy issues in in the areas of tax, capital and credit, energy and climate, homeland security, and infrastructure and housing.

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Roundtable Members Participate in Nationwide Illumination of Buildings to Honor COVID-19 Victims

Denver's City and County Building was lit as part of the

Real Estate Roundtable members on Jan. 19 joined other building owners and operators around the nation to illuminate private and public buildings in a “national moment of unity and remembrance” to honor those Americans who have fallen to COVID-19. (Photo: Denver's City and County Building, credit: Patricia Duncan )

  • Dozens of Roundtable member organizations responded to a request for participation from the Presidential Inaugural Committee.  Their building illumination efforts coincided with a lighting ceremony 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.

  • The Roundtable on Jan. 19 issued the following statement about the memorial event, which was held as part of the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala D. Harris:

    • “The Real Estate Roundtable encourages all Americans to support the peaceful transfer of power to the new Biden-Harris Administration, and urges that the 117th Congress unify across party lines to address the critical health, economic and social challenges now facing the American people. 

    • “This evening, in association with the inauguration of the Biden-Harris administration, our nation will recognize the nearly 400,000 fellow citizens who have died over the past year due to COVID-19." 

    • “Building owners are proud to join national policy makers, religious leaders, business figures and others commemorating tonight’s event by lighting many of our buildings nationwide as part of the #COVIDMemorial."

    • “The Roundtable is committed to work positively with our elected officials to help our nation stabilize and rebuild from the severe hardships caused by the pandemic — and to do so in a manner that affirms and more fully realizes the ideals of equality and opportunity upon which our great nation is founded.”

Photo compilations of illuminated buildings in towns and cities nationwide who participated in the tribute were posted on media outlets such as Axios, the San Jose, CA publication The Mercury News and ABC News.

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Senate Finance Committee Approves Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary; BisNow Webinar Features Roundtableโ€™s DeBoer on Industry Policy Agenda and Biden Administration

Janet Yellen during Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing

The Senate Finance Committee on Jan. 22 voted unanimously to advance President Biden’s nomination of Janet Yellen for Treasury secretary to the full Senate for a vote. Yellen, who formerly served as chair of the Federal Reserve, would become the first woman to hold the position. (The Hill, Jan. 22) 

  • Yellen testified before the committee earlier this week that “the world has changed,” encouraged policymakers to “act big,” and addressed fiscal relief, potential tax increases and the growing budget deficit. (Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal, Jan. 19)

  • “Neither the President-elect, nor I, propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden,” she said. “But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big. In the long run, I believe the benefits will far outweigh the costs, especially if we care about helping people who have been struggling for a very long time.” (Yellen testimony, Jan. 19)

  • In follow-up written Q&A with the committee, Yellen addressed a wide variety of policy issues including tax policy and climate change. Among her answers in the document:

    “Both the President and I believe we can turn the threat of climate change into an opportunity to boost our economy and reinvigorate old and new industries to create high paying middle class jobs across America. President Biden has a comprehensive plan to invest in the United States, create a clean energy economy, and address the crisis of climate change. I am focused on the President's agenda, including investments in the clean energy economy, to address climate change and create good paying jobs and energy efficiency technologies, as well as clean electricity standards that will achieve carbon-pollution-free electricity by 2035.”

  • Yellen also said she planned to start a new Treasury "hub" that would examine financial system risks arising from climate change and on related tax policy incentives, POLITICO's Zachary Warmbrodt reports.

  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who is poised to chair the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement after the hearing, “As we continue to deal with the worst economic crisis in a century, it’s critically important that she be leading the Treasury Department as soon as possible.” 

Roundtable’s DeBoer & Policy Priorities 

Jeffrey DeBoer, upper left, during Bisnow Webinar

Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer commented in the media this week on the Biden Administration and policy priorities ahead.  

  • In Commercial Property Executive’s Jan. 22 article, Industry Responds as Biden Kicks Off Tenure (, DeBoer states, “There are many serious issues facing the nation, but job number one is winning the ongoing battle against the health and economic consequences of the pandemic.”  He added, “In addition, we expect robust debate and activity around housing availability, infrastructure and immigration reform and expanding opportunities for all Americans.”

    • The Roundtable and 12 national real estate organizations on Dec. 16, 2020 congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their historic election and submitted detailed policy recommendations to the incoming administration on COVID-19 relief, sustainability, housing, immigration, tax policy infrastructure, and other policy issue areas. (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 18, 2020)

      • The industry letter acknowledges the many economic and social challenges confronting the country and the Biden Administration, including the national response to COVID-19. The letter and supporting policy memo were also sent to every congressional office on Capitol Hill.

      • DeBoer also participated in Jan. 19 BisNow webinar with Roundtable Member Steven Witkoff, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Witkoff, and W. Edward (Ed) Walter – Global Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Land Institute and current co-chair of The Roundtable’s Research Committee – that focused on future economic stimulus proposals from the Biden Administration and industry priorities.

      • DeBoer said, “What Biden has suggested already is very positive. We need to go bold and big. So when we look at this next wave of legislation, we’re going to be looking for how does it distribute the vaccine because until that occurs it is going to be difficult for cities and states and businesses to regain their footing. We have also worked hard on the concept of rent assistance and we have urged that impacted businesses also be able to get some rental assistance.”

      • He added, “We are also very hopeful that in the next bill we can get some additional clarity on liability concerns for businesses. And going forward, we’re concerned that for leasing and refinancing, there may be a need to have a program along the lines of what was established after 9-11 for terrorism insurance. There may be a need for a pandemic risk insurance federal program that would allow people to help mitigate the risk of a future pandemic and that insurance would be available to any kind of business.” 

      The Roundtable’s policy agenda and the Biden Administration’s proposals will be discussed during both The Roundtable’s business meeting and policy advisory committee meetings during the organization’s State of the Industry Meeting on Jan. 26-27 (all virtual).

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