Congress Faces Shutdown Deadlines as Domestic Funding and Foreign Aid Priorities Dominate Early 2024 Agenda
Congress faces a looming set of government shutdown deadlines early in the New Year as pressure builds on lawmakers to balance government funding with increased emergency aid requests for the southern border, Ukraine, and Israel. A stopgap bill passed late last year established the first funding deadline on Jan. 19, which could shutter parts of the government—while the second deadline on Feb. 2 could bring a total shutdown, including military operations. (Punchbowl News, Jan. 5 | The Hill, Jan. 1 | Politico, Jan. 2 and Dec. 28)
Congressional focus on immediate funding priorities adds a degree of uncertainty to an additional tax package that may seek to hitch a ride on any new spending bill early in the year. (Tax Notes and Politico, Jan. 2)
Recent discussions between Senate and House tax writers have focused on a package in the $90-100 billion range that would include measures on business interest deductibility, bonus depreciation, and an increase in the child tax credit for low-income families. (Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 17)
Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) is scheduled to discuss funding priorities and tax issues during The Roundtable’s all-member 2024 State of the Industry Meeting on Jan. 23. Additionally, senior congressional staff from both Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means Committees will discuss the outlook for tax, trade, and other economic legislation in 2024 and beyond with Roundtable members.
Congressional Review Act
On the regulatory front, the Congressional Review Act (CRA) is a tool a new Congress can use to overturn certain federal agency rules completed during the last 60 session days of the previous Congress. This “lookback” threat of CRA reversal may come to fruition if Republicans win control of Congress and the White House in the November elections. (PoliticoPro, Jan. 2 and Congressional Research Service.)
A CRA initiative could impact Biden administration regulations completed this summer, but an exact date for when new rules would be clear of the CRA “lookback” is unknown at this time. (PoliticoPro, Jan. 2)
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Climate and Energy Policy
Biden Administration Requests Comments on Draft Definition for “Zero Emissions Buildings”
The Biden administration on Wednesday issued a draft definition for the term “Zero Emissions Buildings.” The voluntary guideline would apply to non-federal, existing buildings and new construction. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) requested comments by Feb. 5 from industry and other stakeholders about Part 1 of the draft “ZEB” language, which is focused on “zero operating emissions.” (DOE announcement | National Definition Draft Criteria | Comments Form)
An eventual, final ZEB definition would be the first federal government guideline providing voluntary criteria for buildings that aspire to zero emissions status. DOE’s proposed draft defines a zero emissions building through three (3) criteria:
Highly energy efficient
Free of on-site emissions from energy use, and
Powered solely from clean energy
DOE will hold two public listening sessions on the draft definition. Registration is capped at the first 100 attendees:
Thursday, January 11, 2024 @ 10 a.m. ET – Register
Tuesday, January 30, 2024 @ 10:30 a.m. ET – Register
RER plans to submit comments about the draft proposal. A federal definition for ZEB could bring much-needed consistency to help CRE owners and investors establish long-term emissions goals for buildings. (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 29, 2023)
The Roundtable and a coalition of real estate organizations sent a Sept. 14 letter to US-EPA supporting development of standard methods and metrics for buildings and tenants to quantify their emissions.
Federal standards, definitions, and tools “are the North Star though which local governments can inform their law-making, and this helps bring some sense and order to the otherwise conflicting patchwork of climate laws and frameworks developed by states, cities, and NGOs,” said The Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) Chair Tony Malkin (Chairman, President, and CEO, Empire State Realty Trust). (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 15)
Roundtable Senior VP and Counsel Duane Desiderio was quoted on Sept. 28 in the Washington Post about how CRE companies may welcome the idea of a single federal standard. “A workable, usable federal definition of zero-emission buildings can bring some desperately needed uniformity and consistency to a chaotic regulatory landscape,” Desiderio said. (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 15)
Executive branch officials from the White House, federal agencies, and leading non-governmental organizations will discuss the national ZEB definition on Jan. 24 during sessions on sustainability issues at The Roundtable’s all-member 2024 State of the Industry Meeting.