Lawmakers Extend Government Funding Into Early 2024; Outlook Uncertain for Tax Policy and Other Priorities

Capitol Hill at dusk

The latest threat of a government shutdown eased this week after President Biden signed two continuing resolutions, funding some agencies until Jan. 19 and others until Feb. 2, giving Congress a chance to pass full-year appropriations bills in early 2024, and leaving the Biden administration’s $106 billion supplemental foreign aid request unresolved. (AP, Nov. 17 |Wall Street Journal | Washington Post | NBC News, Nov. 15)

Window Narrowing for Other Policy Priorities

  • Congress’ focus on the funding measures leave policymakers looking for a potential legislative vehicle that could support a separate, expensive tax package. Conversations among tax policy writers are ongoing, according to Ways and Means Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA). (BGov, Nov. 16)
  • Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) are discussing a package in the $90-100 billion range that would include measures on business interest deductibility and bonus depreciation, as well as an increase in the child tax credit for low-income families. (Roundtable Weekly, June 16)

IRA Tax Incentives

Tax Notes publication
  • On the regulatory front, Roundtable Senior Vice President Ryan McCormick was quoted this week in Tax Notes on the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) rules affecting clean energy credits—and the need to ensure incentives extend equitably to “mixed partnerships” that include both taxable and tax-exempt investors.
  • “Tax-exempt investors in mixed real estate partnerships include pension funds, educational endowments, private foundations, and public charities,” said McCormick, noting that these entities have invested over $900 billion in commercial real estate.
  • The Tax Notes article also addressed problems posed by IRA prevailing wage and apprenticeship rules that were the focus of an Oct. 30 Roundtable comment letter. The letter quantified the large compliance costs and recommended allowing contractors to self-certify their compliance with the wage and apprenticeship requirements. (Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 3)

The Roundtable’s Tax and Sustainability Policy Advisory Committees will remain engaged with policymakers as the IRA rules affecting CRE are finalized and implemented. These issues will be discussed during The Roundtable’s State of the Industry Meeting on January 23-24, 2024 in Washington.

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Congress Aims for Continuing Resolution by Nov. 18 Funding Deadline

Congress needs to pass a continuing resolution (CR) by next Saturday, Nov. 18 to avoid a partial government shutdown if appropriations bills are not enacted for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. (CQ and The Hill, Nov. 9)

CR vs Shutdown

  • New House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) may introduce a funding bill early next week, giving only days for Congress to agree on a CR or risk a partial government shutdown. House Republican leaders have signaled they still may pursue a “laddered” approach—with several spending bills to last until December and the remainder in January. By contrast, The Senate is considering a short-term CR to fund the government until mid-December. (Punchbowl News, Nov. 9)
  • Another major consideration is a White House $106 billion supplemental request that includes aid for Ukraine and Israel. Republicans have voiced opposition to the package unless President Biden includes policy changes on border security.
  • Today, Biden commented today that he was “open to discussions about the border” on the tarmac before boarding Air Force One.
  • The administration has also requested another $56 billion for domestic policies that include childcare, broadband subsidies, and disaster relief. (Roll Call, Nov. 7)

CRE Conditions

  • Real Estate Roundtable Chairman Emeritus Bill Rudin, above, (Co-Chairman and CEO, Rudin Management Co.) this week discussed challenges facing CRE on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street, including a massive wave of loans that need to be refinanced over the next few years and the need for property conversions.
  • Rudin emphasized that each CRE sector, and region, is different, noting that multifamily properties and high-quality commercial buildings may be doing well while certain office assets face significant challenges. The Roundtable’s Q4 Sentiment Index released last week reflects these conditions, which include higher financing costs, increased illiquidity, and uncertain post-pandemic user demand. (Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 3 and GlobeSt, Nov. 7)

Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer said, “Various CRE markets and asset classes need more time to adapt to the new preferences of clients; more flexibility to restructure their asset financing; and patience while adjusting to the evolving valuation landscape. In addition to conversion activities, The Roundtable continues to urge the federal government to return to the workplace and support measures to assist loan modifications and increase liquidity available to all asset classes and their owners. We also remain opposed to regulatory proposals that impede capital formation.” (Roundtable news release, Nov. 3)

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House GOP Turmoil Continues; Roundtable Leaders Address Issues Facing CRE

House Republicans continued their divided struggle this week to identify a new Speaker after removing Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) last week. Meanwhile, Congress faces increasing pressure to pass foreign aid for Israel and Ukraine, followed by a spending bill to avoid a partial government shutdown on Nov. 17. When House GOP leadership is eventually elected, pending real estate-related tax proposals in the lower chamber may depend on whether policymakers are able and willing to expand the scope of negotiations over a bill to fund the government. (Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 5)

Speaker Search

  • The House has been unable to pass legislation without a Speaker since Oct. 5. Today, House Republicans nominated Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) for Speaker, although he will need to be elected with 217 votes from all Representatives, included the divided GOP caucus. (The Hill, Oct. 13)

  • Also today, four centrist Democrats offered to give Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry (R-NC) “temporary, expanded authorities” to bring urgent funding bills to the House floor for votes. The letter, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), is an offer to Republicans who may also support empowering McHenry to act on spending bills. (Politico and Democrats’ letter to McHenry, Oct. 13)

  • The letter proposes authorities for the Speaker Pro Tempore to introduce legislation on the following:
    • Foreign aid emergency supplemental funding for Ukraine and Israel;
    • Extending current continuing resolution through January 11, 2024, to prevent a
    • looming government shutdown; and,
    • Committee and floor consideration of remaining FY24 appropriations bills.

CRE Issues

Aerial View Of Industrial Commerce Office Buildings.
  • Recent media interviews featured Roundtable leadership discussing industry challenges that will also be addressed by RER members, lawmakers and regulators during The Roundtable Fall Meeting in Washington next week.

  • On Oct. 6, Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman & CEO, SUFFOLK) talked about developments in remote work, housing costs, interest rates, and construction supply on Bloomberg’s The Tape podcast. (Scroll to 30:00 to begin Fish interview)

  • Roundtable Board Member Kathleen McCarthy (Blackstone Global Co-Head of Real Estate) appeared on CNBC’s Halftime Report 28 to discuss sector variation in commercial real estate, creating value in a dislocated environment, and more. “Different sectors are traveling at different speeds,” said McCarthy, who addressed activity in data centers, logistics, and student housing.

Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer discussed a range of policy issues facing the industry on Sept. 26 as part of a Marcus & Millichap webcast, “A Conversation with Lloyd Blankfein, Former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, on the Economy and Commercial Real Estate with Insights from Industry Leaders.” Marcus & Millichap President and CEO Hessam Nadji and former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein led the webcast discussion on economic issues, including Federal Reserve policy impacting the commercial real estate market. CRE industry leaders Tom McGee, President and CEO of ICSC and Sharon Wilson Géno, President of NMHC also joined the conversation.

Congress Faces Short-Term Funding Measure to Prevent Government Shutdown by Sept. 30

Funding for the government will expire Sept. 30 if Congress cannot muster a short-term stopgap patch to keep federal agencies open and avoid a partial government shutdown. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) faces strong opposition from members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus to strike a deal with the Biden administration, which has submitted an additional $44 billion request for disaster relief, border security, and Ukraine. (CQ, Sept. 5 and AP, Aug. 21)

Flood Response Funding

  • An uncertain funding landscape dominates the prospects for legislative developments for the remainder of the year. If policymakers manage to pass a short-term “continuing resolution,” it could require a follow-on “omnibus” budget package for 2024 that may serve as the only must-pass vehicle to move other policy changes through Congress.
  • As the hurricane season picks up momentum, one government program affecting commercial real estate that is subject to the Sept. 30 funding deadline is The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Congress has enacted 25 short-term NFIP reauthorizations since 2017.
  • A new flood rating methodology (Risk Rating 2.0) in 2021 established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has attracted additional disagreement among policymakers after it was reported that resulting rate hikes could cause the loss of coverage for hundreds of thousands of policyholders. (Associated Press, July 22)
  • The Roundtable is a long-standing supporter of a long-term reauthorization of the NFIP with appropriate reforms that create long-term stability for policyholders, improved accuracy of flood maps, mitigation reforms, enhanced affordability, and the acceptance of non-NFIP policies for commercial properties. (Roundtable Weekly, June 30)

Tax and Other Policy

  • House Republican leaders hope to break an impasse in the GOP caucus over a tax relief package passed by the Ways and Means Committee that includes measures affecting commercial real estate. Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO), above, spoke about his efforts to advance the tax measure during The Roundtable’s recent Annual Meeting. (Roundtable Weekly, June 16 and June 9) 
  • The committee bill has not reached the House floor for a vote due to opposition by members from high-tax states who want the package to include relief from the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions (SALT), enacted in the GOP’s 2017 tax law. (Washington Post, July 24 and  Roll Call). 
  • The tax package would extend expired business interest deductibility rules and 100% immediate expensing (bonus depreciation) for qualifying capital investments. Bonus depreciation is 80% in 2023 and gradually phasing down.
  • Two other tax issues with bipartisan support that may be folded into a negotiated end-of-year tax package are the expansion of The Roundtable-supported low-income housing tax credit and technical corrections to SECURE 2.0, a package of retirement provisions. (Tax Notes, Sept. 5)

Hearings & Climate Disclosure Rule

SEC Chair Gary Gensler
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Sept. 12, followed by an expected appearance before the House Financial Services Committee on Sept. 27. (PoliticoPro, Aug. 28)
  • Committee members are likely to question Gensler about a highly anticipated climate disclosure rule and SEC proposals impacting advisory client assets and cybersecurity risk management. (Thomson Reuters, Aug. 22, “SEC Plans to Finalize 30 Proposed Rules in Near Term”)

The policy issues above and many more will be the focus of discussions during The Roundtable’s Fall Meeting (Roundtable-level members only) on Oct. 16-17 in Washington.

Debt Ceiling Compromise Passed Days Before National Default Deadline

Capitol side view

Congress passed compromise legislation this week to suspend the debt ceiling for two years and restrain government spending, sending it to President Biden for his signature and calming world financial markets days before a US government default. (CQ and Wall Street Journal, June 2)

After the Debt Ceiling

  • The House on Wednesday night passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act (H.R. 3746)—forged by President Joe Biden, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and their negotiation teams—to suspend the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt limit until Jan. 1, 2025 and cut spending by at least $1.5 trillion. The Senate approved the bill last night by a bipartisan vote of 63-36. (Congressional Budget Office, May 30 and Associated Press, May 26)
  • “No one gets everything they want in a negotiation, but make no mistake: this bipartisan agreement is a big win for our economy and the American people,” President Biden stated last night. “I look forward to signing this bill into law as soon as possible…” (White House statement, June 1)
  • House policymakers have signaled they may follow the debt ceiling crisis with a legislative tax proposal that could include significant measures affecting commercial real estate. (Roundtable Weekly, May 26)
  • Congressional action on such measures would come at a time when the office sector faces difficult conditions, including asset price discovery and tighter liquidity. (Wall Street Journal, May 30 Financial Times, May 29 | GlobeSt, May 26) 

Economic Conditions & CRE

Ross Perot, Jr. on Bloomberg TV

  • Real Estate Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman and CEO, SUFFOLK) explained the economic conditions facing CRE and the office market, along with other pressures such as remote work and a shortage of labor, in a May 26 Boston Globe interview. “We’re in a very precarious situation,” Fish said.
  • Roundtable Board Member Ross Perot, Jr., above, (Chairman, The Perot Companies and Hillwood) discussed the financing challenges faced by some CRE sectors in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Wednesday. “If the industry can’t get a construction loan, real estate will have a recession,” Perot said. “The key to commercial real estate today will be banking.”
  • The Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book” issued this week also reported on the nation’s current overall economic activity, noting, “Commercial construction and real estate activity decreased overall, with the office segment continuing to be a weak spot.” (GlobeSt, May 31)
  • Additionally, Trepp’s CMBS Delinquency Report issued this week showed the nation’s overall CMBS delinquency rate hit a 14-month high, topping 4% for the first time since 2018. Although May’s delinquency rate jumped to 3.62%, up 53 basis points for the month, the all-time high registered 10.34% in July 2012 and the COVID-19 high reached 10.32% in June 2020.
  • Federal Reserve monetary policies, congressional fiscal policy, potential tax measures, and other issues impacting CRE will be discussed during The Real Estate Roundtable’s Annual Meeting on June 13-14 in Washington, DC.

The Roundtable meeting includes policy advisory committee meetings—open to all members—that will feature prominent policymakers, including Senate Banking Committee Member Bill Hagerty (R-TN); House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO); David Crane, the US-DOE’s Director of the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations; and Alejandra Nunez, US-EPA Assistant Administrator overseeing climate policy.

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Bipartisan Legislation Reintroduced to Allow Greater REIT Equity Investments in Distressed Retail Tenants

Retail tenant distress

Bipartisan legislation reintroduced this week by House Ways and Means Committee Members Darin LaHood (R- IL) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) would allow real estate investment trusts (REITs) to make greater equity investments in retail tenants that have yet to recover from the pandemic’s economic impact. 

Support for Retail Tenant Assistance

  • The Retail Revitalization Act (H.R. 3749) is aimed at unlocking capital for productive investment and helping prevent further large-scale job losses and bankruptcies in the retail sector and its supply chain. (Congressional Record, May 30)
  • As of May 5, ten major retailers had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2023. The number of retail failures, which includes Bed Bath & Beyond, David’s Bridal, and Party City, is already twice the level of 2022. More bankruptcies are anticipated. (Forbes, May 5 and Forbes, May 15)
  • Real Estate Roundtable President Jeffrey DeBoer stated, “The Retail Revitalization Act would reform an outdated section of our tax code that currently prevents the commercial real estate industry from stepping forward and deploying its own capital to solve significant economic challenges. Retail bankruptcies have negative consequences for employees, surrounding businesses, and local communities. This bipartisan legislation to allow REITs to invest more heavily in their tenants is exactly the type of cost-effective, commonsense measure that everyone can and should support. The bill will save jobs, increase local tax revenue, and create a stronger foundation for future economic growth.”

Amending REIT Rules

REITs - graphic

  • The LaHood-Schneider legislation—strongly supported by The Real Estate Roundtable—would modify tax provisions limiting REITs’ ability to invest equity capital in their retail tenants. The bill would amend existing “related-party rent” rules by:
    • increasing the capacity of a REIT to own the equity of a distressed tenant from 10% to 50% and from 10% to 30% for all other tenants;

    • changing the ownership attribution rules used to determine what is considered related party rent under current REIT rules to the general ownership attribution rules used elsewhere in the tax code, and;

    • changing the limitation on space that a REIT can lease to its taxable REIT subsidiary.

Tax Policymakers

  • House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO)Tax proposals such as H.R. 3749 and others will be discussed during TPAC, held in conjunction with The Roundtable’s all-member Annual Meeting on June 13-14 in Washington, DC. TPAC speakers will include:

    • House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO), above

    • House Ways and Means Committee Member Brad Schneider (D-IL)
    • Joint Committee on Taxation Chief of Staff Thomas Barthold
    • Senior staff from Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee

TPAC will also feature a panel session on “Post-Pandemic Real Estate Challenges and Tax Policy: Debt Workouts / Tax Incentives for Property Repurposing, Community Revitalization, and Housing.” All Roundtable members are encouraged to attend.

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House Tax Package Expected to Follow Debt Ceiling Resolution

US Capitol sunsetThe House Ways and Means Committee may release a tax-focused economic growth package in June after a final resolution is reached between President Joe Biden, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and their negotiation teams on the debt ceiling. The intense talks on federal spending limits have less than a week before the Treasury Department estimates the nation may default on its debt obligations. (Wall Street Journal, May 25 | PoliticoPro, May 23 | Roundtable Weekly, May 19) 

Tax Measures & CRE 

  • The House Republican tax package is about 90% complete and “buttoned up pretty tight,” according to Ways and Means Member Kevin Hern (R-OK). “We’re making sure that we don’t disrupt any of the debt limit conversations and distract from that, but it would be ready to go very quickly,” Hern said. (Tax Notes, May 24)
     
  • Ways and Means Committee Member Randy Feenstra (R-IA) commented that the package will likely include measures that expired last year, including full bonus depreciation and certain taxpayer-favorable rules related to the deductibility of business interest under Section 163(j)—both supported by The Real Estate Roundtable. (PoliticoPro, May 23 and BGov, May 25)
     
  • Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, 100% bonus depreciation applies to capital investments made between 2018 and 2022 (as well as capital improvements made to the interior of nonresidential buildings). However, the bonus depreciation benefit began phasing down this year. In addition, real estate businesses that elect out of TCJA’s limits on business interest deductibility do not qualify for the bonus depreciation benefit.
     
  • The House tax package is expected to extend 100% bonus depreciation through at least 2025, allowing many taxpayers to continue immediately expensing qualified interior improvements. Moreover, by reinstating certain expired provisions from section 163(j), the tax bill would allow more real estate businesses to avail themselves of the bonus depreciation benefit without inhibiting their ability to deduct their business interest expense. 

Additional Provisions and TCJA Permanency 

House Ways and Means Committee doorway

  • The economic growth package could also include provisions extending the enhanced child tax credit and the deductibility of R&D expenditures.  Housing-related measures, such as an expansion of the low-income housing tax credit, are also under consideration. 
  • Separately, the Ways and Means Committee may also consider the TCJA Permanency Act (H.R. 976), reintroduced by Committee Vice Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) in February. The bill would permanently extend TCJA provisions scheduled to sunset at the end of 2025, including the 20 percent deduction for qualified pass-through business income (Section 199A). (Tax Notes and Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 24)
  • While a TCJA permanency bill is likely dead on arrival in the current Senate, the House economic growth tax package could be the starting point for bipartisan negotiations with congressional Democrats on a limited number of tax and economic priorities as the year further unfolds. 

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) will be a guest at The Roundtable’s June 13-14 all-member Annual Meeting and policy adivisory committee meetings will include discussions on a debt ceiling agreement and potential tax legislation. 

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Administration Unsuccessfully Seeks to Add Like-Kind Exchange Restrictions to Debt Ceiling Talks

LKE form 8824 held by business person

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) signaled progress this week on debt limit and federal spending talks after they assigned teams of negotiators to bang out an agreement before a looming national default “x-date” is reached in June. (BGov and CQ, May 18)

LKE Restrictions Rejected

  • One cost-cutting measure proposed by the administration’s team, and rejected by Republicans, would have imposed limitations on the use of Section 1031 like-kind exchanges. (Washington Post, May 15)
  • President Biden has consistently proposed limiting the use of LKEs, most recently as part of his FY2024 budget proposal submitted earlier this year. (Roundtable Weekly, March 10)
  • “The administration’s proposal to severely limit the use of section 1031 would destroy jobs, lock properties into unproductive uses at a time when a realignment of real estate assets is needed, harm housing supply, and end a mechanism used by environmental groups to conserve land and natural spaces,’ said Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer.
  • “It is an idea that has been debated by Congress numerous times and always rejected, most recently in a unanimous vote on the Senate floor,” DeBoer continued. “Perhaps most importantly, the proposal would eliminate one of the only real estate market liquidity tools available at a time when credit markets and banks are tightening, as they are today.”
  • Academic and other economic research has repeatedly demonstrated the positive economic contribution of LKEs and their importance to the US economy. (Roundtable Weekly, July 1, 2022 and EY report—“Economic Contribution of the Like-Kind Exchange Rules to the US economy in 2021: An Update”)

Looming Deadline

US Capitol
  • President Biden and Speaker McCarthy assigned five Washington insiders on May 16 to the immense negotiation task, in hopes that an “agreement in principle” can be reached this weekend, which would allow the House and Senate to vote before June 1. (The Hill and BGov, May 17 | Associated Press, May 18)
  • “I’m confident that we’ll get the agreement on the budget and America will not default,” Biden said before departing this week for a meeting of world leaders at the G-7 annual summit in Japan. (CBS News, May 17)
  • McCarthy said yesterday, “I see the path that we can come to an agreement. And I think we have a structure now and everybody’s working hard.” (Politico, May 18)

House Democrats this week began preparing an emergency “discharge petition” to raise the debt ceiling if negotiators are unable to reach an agreement, though its odds of passing are uncertain. (Wall Street Journal, May 17)

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Debt Ceiling Talks Inch Forward as Republicans, Democrats Prioritize Permitting Reform for Energy Projects

Big Four with President Biden

A May 9 meeting between President Joe Biden and the “Big Four” congressional leaders about the debt ceiling and federal spending ended with little progress—yet the policymakers agreed to meet early next week as their respective staffs begin separate budget discussions. (The Hill, May 11 and Axios May 9 | Roundtable Weekly, May 5)

 Talks Begin 

  • As the “X date” for defaulting on the national debt looms in June, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) met to discuss raising the $31.4 trillion U.S. debt limit with President Biden, who described the gathering as “productive.” (Associated Press and Reuters, May 10)
  • McCarthy commented he “didn’t see any new movement,” but added he was willing to discuss spending cutbacks such as clawing back funding for pandemic programs. He added that Biden may also be open to discussing permitting reform for energy infrastructure projects, though the two parties are far apart on the specifics of their legislative proposals. (Washington Post and CNN, May 10 and BGov, May 9)

Energy Infrastructure Priorities 

White House Senior Advisor John Podesta

Related Energy News  EPA logo

  • The Environmental Protection Agency released a proposed rule today to cut carbon emissions by 90% from the nation’s power plants, drawing a “counterattack from Republicans and coal-state Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin” (D-WV), chairman of the Senate Energy Committee. (New York Times, May 11 and POLITICO, May 11)
  • De-carbonizing the electric grid, and moving utilities away from combusting coal and natural gas, would help building owners and commercial tenants reduce their “indirect” Scope 2 GHG emissions attributable to the electricity they purchase.
  • Meanwhile, the General Services Administration (GSA) announced yesterday it will leverage $3.4 billion it received under the IRA to pursue new public-private partnerships that will improve energy efficiency, reduce onsite emissions, and encourage electrification in federal buildings. (GSA news release, May 10)
  • The GSA will advance the White House’s  Climate Smart Buildings Initiative. It aims to modernize 41 federal facilities in DC and the Midwest through long-term “performance contracts” with private sector companies that guarantee projects will pay for themselves over time through energy savings that accrue from retrofit installations. (BGov, May 10). See GSA’s National Deep Energy Retrofit program

The Roundtable will focus on the impact of the debit ceiling and federal energy policy priorities during its all-member Annual Meeting on June 13-14 in Washington. 

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118th Congress Faces Looming Debt Ceiling and Funding Deadlines

Janet Yellen testifying

Today, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen notified Congress that the federal government is expected to reach its $31.4 trillion debt limit by Jan. 19, officially triggering the start of a potential standoff between House Republicans, the Democratic-controlled Senate, and the White House about how to increase the debt ceiling. (New York Times and Politico Playbook PM, Jan. 13)

Looming Standoff

  • Yellen wrote, “Failure to meet the government’s obligations would cause irreparable harm to the U.S. economy, the livelihoods of all Americans, and global financial stability.” (Yellen letter, Jan. 13)
  • Yellen noted that while the Treasury will take steps to preserve cash, the government may only be able to pay its financial obligations until early June. Treasury’s “extraordinary measures” could include halting pension fund contributions and prematurely redeeming federal bonds. (New York Times, Jan. 13 | Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Oct. 28, 2022)
  • The 118th Congress will eventually need to raise the debt limit to avoid a first-ever national default and global recession. (Politico, Jan. 12)
  • Some Republicans have discussed achieving spending cuts by setting caps on discretionary government funding at FY 2022 levels. This approach would result in a cut of approximately $130 billion from current levels appropriated in the omnibus spending law enacted last month—a non-starter for Democrats. (The Hill, Jan. 10 | Roll Call,  Jan. 9 | Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 22)
  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) secured his new position as House Speaker on Jan. 7 by appeasing a small group of hardline Republican conservatives with concessions, which included unspecified spending cuts in exchange for raising the national debt ceiling. (Reuters, Jan. 7 and AP, Jan. 11)
  • White House officials are mounting an outreach campaign to freshman lawmakers and moderate Republicans in an attempt to attract enough votes to avoid a fiscal cliff vote over the debt ceiling. (Politico, Jan. 12)

Government Funding Deadline

Rep. French Hill

  • Another deadline on the financial horizon is Sept. 30, when funding for the federal fiscal year expires. A legislative standoff on spending priorities could lead policymakers to vote on a “Continuing Resolution (CR)” to fund the government programs at current levels or allow a partial government shutdown. (CQ, Dec. 29, 2022)
  • Rep. French Hill (R-AR), above, one of Speaker McCarthy’s allies who helped negotiate with the hardline GOP faction, said Republicans were seeking to design an automatic trigger for a CR in the event that the Senate does not act on House spending proposals.
  • Hill said, “It would be a way for all members of Congress to say, look, we want to fund our government, we want to rein in spending. But if the Senate doesn’t act in the right way, we’ve agreed on this CR that would be triggered by the lack of certain bills not being passed on Oct. 1.” (CQ, Jan. 9)

Rep. Hill will address policymaking in the 118th Congress and capital markets during The Roundtable’s State of the Industry Business Meeting on Jan. 24 in Washington.

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