House Democratic Leader and Other Policymakers Discuss Economic and CRE Market Issues

The Real Estate Roundtable's Spring Meeting April 15-16, 2024

This week’s Real Estate Roundtable meeting focused on national policies impacting commercial real estate, with an emphasis on the economy, the need for increased federal support for property conversions, and capital and credit issues. Guests such as House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and other prominent policymakers also discussed the housing crisis, return-to-office issues, and the upcoming elections. (The Roundtable’ Spring 2024 Policy Priorities and Executive Summary)

Speakers & Policy Issues

John Fish, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and Jeffrey Deboer
  • Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), center, with Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman & CEOSUFFOLK), left, and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, right, discussed policymaking in the House, the need to balance geopolitical urgencies with pressing domestic priorities, and finding bipartisan paths to solve the nation’s problems.
  • House Financial Services Committee Member French Hill (R-AR), right, engaged in a discussion moderated by Michelle Herrick (Head of Real Estate Banking, J.P. Morgan), left, that addressed the wave of maturing CRE loans and the future of a regulatory proposal to hike bank capital requirements known as “Basel III.” (Roundtable Weekly, March 8)
Jared Bernstein, Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers
  • White House Council of Economic Advisers Chair Jared Bernstein, above, emphasized that affordable housing is a high-priority focus of the Biden administration—and welcomed a series of recommendations by The Roundtable on how the Biden administration could further support commercial-to-residential property conversions. He also discussed inflation’s role in credit and capital markets. (See story below)
Enice Thomas, Deputy Comptroller for Credit Risk Policy, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
  • Enice Thomas (Deputy Comptroller for Credit Risk Policy, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency), above, focused on economic risk for regional banks that service specific property types and locations within office and multifamily sectors. Thomas clarified that the OCC encourages bankers to work with borrowers early if any stress indicator arises in their portfolio. He added federal banking regulators are monitoring office markets closely as a wave of loan maturities looms. 
Kevin Palmer (Head of Multifamily, Freddie Mac)—right
  • Kevin Palmer (Head of Multifamily, Freddie Mac)—above right, with Roundtable Board Member Matt Rocco (President, Colliers Mortgage), left—spoke with Roundtable members about Freddie’s role in the industry. He noted that the CMBS market is “humming” and added that planning for a significant refinance opportunity is important, although exceeding Freddie’s caps is an FHFA issue.

Next on The Roundtable’s meeting calendar is the all-member Annual Meeting on June 20-21 in Washington, DC, which will also feature meetings of RER’s Policy Advisory Committees.

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Policymakers and Roundtable Members Discuss Domestic and Global Issues Impacting CRE

This week’s Real Estate Roundtable Fall Meeting focused on financing and liquidity issues; housing shortages and the damaging impact that widespread remote work has on cities, small businesses and real estate markets. Additionally, mitigating policy initiatives were discussed, including: additional regulatory action on maturing loans; legislation to facilitate greater building conversions to housing; and technical tax proposal to address cancelled debt, extend opportunity zones and other matters. Regulations implementing last year’s “climate” related laws were also a topic. Photo: Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman & CEO, Suffolk)

Overcoming the ongoing impasse regarding the election of a new Speaker of the House of Representatives was frequently cited as crucial to advancing any legislation, including funding the government and providing assistance to Israel and Ukraine. (The Roundtable’s Oct. 13 Statement on the recent violence in Israel and its Fall 2023 Policy Priorities and Executive Summary, Oct. 16)

Speakers & Policy Issues

  • Roundtable members engaged in policy issue discussions with the following guests:
  • Tom Barkin, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
    Richmond Fed President Barkin (above, with Roundtable Board Secretary Jodi McLean, Chief Executive Officer, EDENS) acknowledged how rising interest rates have hit CRE hard as the Fed aggressively moves to fight inflation. He also suggested recent data shows consumer demand is weakening, which may help to fight inflation. (Reuters | MarketWatch | Wall Street Journal, Oct. 17)
  • Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD)

As a member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Sen. Rounds (right, with Roundtable Board Member Ross Perot, Jr., Chairman, The Perot Companies and Hillwood) offered his insights into how capital and credit market volatility affects housing policy. He also discussed property insurance costs, supply side issues, and the rising national debt.

  • Sen. Kevin Cramer (ND)

Sen. Kramer also discussed capital liquidity issues and his serious concerns about foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan amid turmoil in House leadership.

  • Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY)

Rep. Torres (D-NY), gesturing above, discussed the violent, murderous attack on Israel and its citizens. He also engaged in a panel discussion on affordable housing, transit-oriented development, and real estate markets with Roundtable Board Members Owen Thomas, left, (Chairman and CEO, BXP); Mark Parrell, 2nd from left, (President and Chief Executive Officer, Equity Residential); and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, right. (See The Roundtable’s Oct. 13 Statement on the recent attack)

  • John Podesta, White House Senior Advisor for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation

[Photo: John Podesta, left, with Roundtable Board Member Tony Malkin (Chairman, President, and CEO, Empire State Realty Trust and Chair of The Roundtable’s Sustainability Advisory Committee)]. Mr. Podesta spoke with Roundtable members about the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act’s expansive clean energy and climate provisions.

  • Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY)

Gov. Hochul addressed real estate as a crucial economic force in New York State, noting the negative impact of remote work in New York City. She also discussed efforts to combat NIMBYism and the role of tax incentives and office conversions to jump-start affordable housing development.

Next on The Roundtable’s meeting calendar is the all-member Annual Meeting, whick will include policy advisory committee meetings, on January 23-24, 2024 in Washington, DC. 

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Roundtable Members, Policymakers Discuss Key National Issues

Real Estate Roundtable 2023 Spring Meeting

Real Estate Roundtable members and policymakers met this week to discuss pressing issues affecting CRE, including return-to-work trends, the looming refinance wave, the debt ceiling, and affordable housing challenges. The Roundtable 2023 Spring Meeting also focused on tax, climate, and regulatory proposals. (The Roundtable’ Policy Priorities and Executive Summary, April 24)

Speakers & Policy Issues

  • Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman & CEOSUFFOLK), below left, and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, rightled policy issue discussions featuring the following guests:

John Fish, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Jeffrey DeBoer

  • Gina Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of Commerce

    Secretary Raimondo, center, discussed how the Commerce Department is investing billions in federal funds in infrastructure, manufacturing, and other industries to generate jobs and economic growth. The former governor of Rhode Island also focused on her recent “Million Women in Construction Initiative” during a National Public Radio Marketplace interview later the same day.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)

  • Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)

    As a member of the Senate Budget and Foreign Relations Committees, Sen. Kaine offered his insights on negotiations surrounding the debt ceiling, global trade, and efforts to revise federal remote work policies aimed at getting government employees back to their offices. (The Roundtable’s workplace return efforts, Commercial Observer, April 14)

Rep. French Hill (R-AR)

  • Rep. French Hill (R-AR)

    Serving as Vice-Chair of the influential House Financial Services Committee and Chairman of its new Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion, Rep. Hill addressed economic issues and CRE, debt ceiling negotiations, the banking system, and monetary policy. Yesterday, the Financial Services Committee approved two bills sponsored by Rep. Hill to expand capital formation.

CBO Director Phillip Swagel

  • Phillip Swagel, Director, Congressional Budget Office

    The government’s fiscal trajectory; the impact of high interest rates on federal revenue and spending; and long-term trends in social security, immigration, and the national debt were among the topics discussed by CBO Director Swagel. (The Fiscal Times, April 25)

NHMCH President Sharon Wilson Geno

  • Sharon Wilson Géno, President, National Multifamily Housing Council

    A Roundtable member exchange on policy issues included an update on affordable housing challenges facing the industry by NMHC’s President Géno. Capital concerns affecting multifamily and commercial markets were also a topic in a recent Walker Webcast featuring Géno and The Roundtable’s DeBoer, hosted by Roundtable Member Willy Walker (Chairman & CEO, Walker & Dunlop).

Thomas Flexner and Kevin Warsh

  • Kevin Warsh, Former Member of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors
    Mr. Warsh, right, a member of the Fed from 2006-2011, discussed the central bank’s potential actions affecting commercial real estate markets, the wave of CRE debt maturities, and the future of the office sector, with Roundtable Treasurer Thomas Flexner, left, Vice Chairman and Global Head of Real Estate, Citigroup.

Next on The Roundtable’s meeting calendar is the all-member Annual Meeting on June 13-14 in Washington, DC. 

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Industry Leaders Engage Lawmakers on National Policy Issues Impacting CRE

Fall Roundtable Meeting visual

Real Estate Roundtable members on Oct. 5 engaged national lawmakers on compelling policy issues impacting commercial real estate, economic growth and job creation – including tax revenue proposals in the infrastructure reconciliation bill, the debt ceiling, housing, climate change and cybersecurity legislation – during The Roundtable’s 2021 Fall Meeting.

Urgent Policy Issues

Jeff DeBoer and John Fish Fall RT Mtg visual

  • Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman and CEO, Suffolk), right, and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, left, launched the meeting and led discussions with members of Congress, including:
    • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)

      This discussion focused on colliding policy issues that have been front-and-center this week in Washington, including the debt ceiling and infrastructure. Sen. Romney was part of a small group of leading policymakers who negotiated the bipartisan “physical” infrastructure bill that passed the Senate in August. (Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 13)

    • Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)

      Sen. Warner noted his priorities in the areas of child care and workforce development. He also addressed the need for more affordable housing investment and cybersecurity reporting, described climate change as an “existential threat,” and discussed tax measures such as raising the top marginal rate on many pass-through owners.  

    • Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ)
      A discussion with Roundtable Chair Emeritus Randy Rowe (Chairman Green Courte Partners LLC) focused on Rep. Gottheimer’s crucial leadership role with congressional moderates as the Co-Chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, who are key to passage of the bipartisan “physical” infrastructure framework and the evolving “human” infrastructure bill. 

    • Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX)
      Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Brady discussed the menu of revenue options that Democrats are considering to pay for the “social infrastructure” reconciliation package. (Accounting Today and MSNBC, Oct. 6)

    • Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL)
      Rep. LaHood, a member of the Ways & Means Committee, provided his views on the numerous converging policy deadlines affecting the decision-making process on Capitol Hill through a video interview with DeBoer released ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.   

Interactive Town Hall

Fall 2021 Roundtable TownHall discussion

  • Roundtable members also participated in an open-mic Town Hall session featuring four members of Congress who play leading roles on national tax, energy and housing issues. The dialogue covered a wide range of topics, including transit investment, EB-5, carried interest and capital gains, climate-related measures and energy-efficiency provisions related to greenhouse emissions.
  • Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Peter Welch (D-VT) participated in the Town Hall.
  • Videos of the discussions with policymakers are available to Roundtable members upon request

Policy Advisory Committees 

Policy Tool Kit Oct 2021

  • Chairs of The Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC), Tax Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC) and Real Estate Capital Advisory Committee (RECPAC) provided updates of the organization’s policy priorities. (See The Roundtable’s Policy Issues Toolkit and Executive Summary
  • Members of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) Committee reported on Roundtable-supported research currently underway, exploring the creation of a potential online marketplace that would connect real estate companies with minority-and women business enterprises that might serve as contractors, suppliers, and venture partners in CRE’s “supply chain.” (ED&I Mission Statement

The policy committees will gather next during the all-member Roundtable State of the Industry meeting, scheduled for January 25-26, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Roundtable Meeting Calendar

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National Policy Issues Dominate Roundtable Annual Meeting; John F. Fish Succeeds Debra A. Cafaro as Roundtable Chair

2021 Annual Roundtable Meeting image

National lawmakers and industry leaders this week discussed a wide range of policy issues – including cybersecurity, infrastructure, climate, taxes, and post-pandemic reopening of businesses – during The Real Estate Roundtable’s 2021 Annual Meeting, where John F. Fish (Chairman and CEO, Suffolk) was elected as Roundtable Chair, effective July 1. (Watch Incoming Chair Fish’s remarks


Policy Issues & Featured Speakers  

  • Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) discussed the administration’s infrastructure proposal, aid for low-income renters, and more.
  • Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) focused on bipartisan congressional efforts on infrastructure, return-to-work issues, and national security threats.
  • White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, above, and Roundtable Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee Chair Tony Malkin (Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Empire State Realty Trust) focused on the commercial real estate industry’s role in climate policy. (watch the discusssion)
  • Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) discussed tax policies that could encourage economic recovery and avoid unintended consequences.
  • “Current Market Challenges and Coming Opportunities” – above – featured the following industry leaders in a discussion on challenges facing markets during a recovering economy, reopening strategies, and cybersecurity concerns for CRE: (watch the discussion)
    • Thomas M. Flexner (Vice Chairman and Global Head of Real Estate, Citigroup)
    • Kathleen McCarthy (Global Co-Head of Blackstone Real Estate)
    • Mark J. Parrell (President & Chief Executive Officer, Equity Residential) and
    • Owen D. Thomas (Chief Executive Officer, Boston Properties)

Policy Advisory Committees

  • Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) – above
    The outlook for energy efficiency legislation was a focus of discussion with key Hill staff representing Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Additionally, officials from the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings initiative and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program updated SPAC.  
  • Research and Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committees (RECPAC)
    Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) discussed the importance of enacting measures to encourage job creation and pro-growth tax policy, and the importance of developing a clear strategy to address global and national security threats, including cyber and ransomware attacks.
  • Tax Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC)
    Tax legislative priorities affecting CRE were the focus of discussion with congressional staffers – including proposals to eliminate or limit the use of carried interest and Like-Kind Exchanges, along with increasing the capital gain rate.
  • Homeland Security Task Force (HSTF) and Risk Management Working Group (RMWG)
    This joint meeting was briefed on “Civil Unrest: Challenges for Communities” by Terry Monahan, Senior Advisor for Recovery and Safety Planning for New York City – and an FBI official discussed the current threats of ransomware and cyber challenges.

The Roundtable’s 2021 Annual Report will be distributed in July. Next on The Roundtable’s Meeting Calendar is the Oct. 5 Fall Meeting in Washington, DC. (Roundtable-level members only)

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Roundtable Leaders and National Policymakers Highlight Key Industry Issues

A wide range of policy issues were addressed by Roundtable leaders, Members of Congress and Administration officials during this week’s Roundtable Spring Meeting, including: infrastructure; housing availability and financing; tax proposals; building energy and climate related matters; and pandemic risk insurance. (For issue detail please see The Roundtable’s 2021 National Policy Agenda)

Roundtable Leadership

  • Roundtable Chair Debra Cafaro (Chairman and CEO, Ventas, Inc.) launched the meeting on April 20 with Roundtable Chair-Elect John F. Fish (Chairman & CEOSUFFOLK) and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer. 
  • Chair Cafaro noted, “We convene at a time imbued with optimism and renewal, as we are fortunate to have an accelerated vaccine rollout, an improving economy and stabilizing markets.” 

  • She also acknowledged the vital, positive role that The Roundtable membership has played in addressing many of today’s national challenges, including rebuilding and expanding infrastructure; expanding housing opportunities; creating jobs and training workers for a changing economy. “Roundtable members have been at the forefront of advocating for these important policies since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cafaro said.
  • Roundtable Chair-Elect Fish stated, “Unintended consequences can occur when big national policy changes are proposed, so it is more important than ever that the real estate industry offer its expertise to help policymakers as they look to enact reform and propose new, important initiatives. The Roundtable is indeed engaged, and will remain so, in major policy issues impacting the industry.”
  • Roundtable President and CEO DeBoer emphasized the need for ongoing interaction with policymakers in Washington as the policy agenda and congressional rosters change.  He stated, “Our Roundtable policy advisory committees continue to remain active in keeping policymakers and regulators up to date on the evolving marketplace and our policy agenda. We always take a fact-based approach from the point of view of the asset, showing how it is sustainable, supports jobs for the community and contributes to overall economic growth,” DeBoer stated.

Featured Policymakers

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg

  • The Roundtable’s Fall Business Meeting included virtual visits from the following guests:
    • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
    • Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, above
    • Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo
    • White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese
    • Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
  • Following the business meeting, members from the House and Senate attended several smaller breakout sessions with Roundtable attendees to discuss national policy issues in a more informal exchange of views.

Next on The Roundtable’s meeting calendar is the all-member June 15-16 State of the Industry Meeting, which will be held virtually via Zoom.

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Real Estate Roundtable Re-Elects Cafaro as Chair, Approves Five New Board Members; 2020 Annual Report Focuses on National Recovery

Real Estate Roundtable FY 2021 Board of Directors - image

The Real Estate Roundtable’s membership has re-elected Debra A. Cafaro (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Ventas, Inc.) as Chair, while approving five new members for its Board of Directors who will serve during the organization’s 2021 fiscal year (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021).

  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer presented the election results and the organization’s FY2020 Annual Report, Leading Though Crisis, during The Roundtable’s June 11 Annual Meeting
  • The 24-member FY2021 Board is elected from the membership and includes five elected leaders of national real estate trade organizations from The Roundtable’s 19 partner associations.  
  • Cafaro, whose three-year term as chair began July 1, 2018, said, “We are delighted to welcome five industry leaders to The Real Estate Roundtable Board.  Their outstanding backgrounds, broad industry representation and diverse experiences will enhance our ability to act as the cohesive industry voice addressing key national policy issues relating to real estate and the overall economy. With our existing Board members, we also intend to drive constructive solutions to economic challenges created by the COVID-19 and racial injustice, both of which are crucial to our society, the national economy, local communities and our industry.
  • I also sincerely thank our Board members whose terms have expired.  They have made significant contributions to the industry and we look forward to their continued engagement with The Roundtable,” Cafaro said. 
  • DeBoer stated, “Roundtable members are among the most talented and innovative industry leaders.   Our Board of Directors represents all major industry activities and is diverse geographically, racially and by gender.  The Board’s strategic and organizational decisions are thus sustainable, practical and inclusive.  I look forward to continuing to follow the Board’s recommendations as we continue our fact-based analysis of overall economic and industry specific policy issues.” 
  • Joining The Roundtable’s Board of Directors as of July 1 are:

National Recovery & Leading Through Crisis

Jeffrey DeBoer addresses how policymakers and the industry can move forward in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic in a July 10 CBRE podcast with Brian Stoffers, Chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association and Global President of Debt & Structured Finance, CBRE.

  • DeBoer states in Public Policy in the Age of COVID: Shaping the CRE Recovery, “…look at what Washington has tried to do … building a bridge, in a sense, a bridge to get people and businesses to a point where they return to some semblance of normalcy. And the problem … is the bridge going to get us there as it’s currently constructed? Is it long enough? Is it strong enough?”

  • He adds, “…there’s a great deal of concern about that because the PPP – the Paycheck Protection Program – that helped people pay their rent and the unemployment and the supplemental … will it burn off at the same time that the economy regenerates itself? Or will there be this lapse? And if there is a lapse, that’s really the focus, I think, of a great deal of concern right now.”

The Roundtable has also released its FY2020 Annual Report – Leading Though Crisis.

  • Chair Cafaro states in the report that as The Real Estate Roundtable beings its 21st year of industry policy work, the nation’s economy is in deep distress due to the COVID-19 health crisis and Americans’ civil protest is a justified expression of anger and frustration around racial injustice. 

  • “We pledge to take action and be part of the solution,” Cafaro states.  She adds that there is much to be done on the policy front ahead: “Although the challenges in these times are unprecedented, our response is based on the same longstanding commitment to sound, evidence-based, nonpartisan policy that undergirds all of our work and success. We know from experience that there is a path to recovery.”

The Roundtable’s Meeting Calendar for FY2021 is now available.  The next Fall Roundtable Meeting on September 22 is for Roundtable-level members only.  Registration forms for the remote meeting will be sent directly to members. 

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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Industry Leaders Address Coronavirus Policy Response, Racial Injustice, and Reopening Challenges

RER 2020 Annual Meeting visual

The Real Estate Roundtable’s first Virtual Annual Meeting this week attracted nearly 300 Roundtable members who remotely accessed discussions with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and industry leaders on COVID-19 policy responses, racial injustice and business reopening challenges.  The Roundtable’s policy advisory committee meetings also held their first remote meetings to analyze policy issues in the tax, capital and credit, sustainability and homeland security areas with subject matter experts from Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the private sector.  

  • Roundtable Chair Debra Cafaro (Chairman and CEO, Ventas, Inc.) launched the business meeting yesterday, noting the June 9 statement on racial injustice she issued with Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer.  (See related story below for more details)
  • Cafaro noted The Roundtable’s intense focus on the economic repercussions of the coronavirus.  She explained how the organization has successfully pivoted its focus to advocating policies that support economic recovery, including a pandemic risk insurance program modeled after TRIA; ongoing efforts to reform the Paycheck Protection Program; Federal Reserve credit lending facilities that accommodate CMBS; and federal efforts that could preserve the “rental obligation chain.”

  • Cafaro also announced that four individuals will join The Roundtable’s Board of Directors and three current Directors will depart, effective July 1.  The new Board Members are:
  • The exiting Board Members, who Cafaro thanked for their accomplished service, are:

Policy Issues & Featured Speakers 
The Roundtable’s June 11 Annual Business Meeting included the following speakers: 

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed the Administration’s work with Congress to address the economic fallout from the outbreak with The Roundtable’s Jeffrey DeBoer. Secretary Mnuchin emphasized how recent improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has helped small business borrowers deal with the economic impact of the global pandemic.  He added that the Administration is also considering business liability protections and pandemic risk insurance.
  • Citi’s Vice Chairman Raymond McGuire discussed “Real Estate’s Role in Addressing Racial Injustice” with Roundtable Immediate Past Chair William Rudin (Co-Chairman and CEO, Rudin Management Inc.).  McGuire noted that fortunate opportunities for an excellent education is what made the difference in his life experience and that providing similar opportunities to African American youths is of vital importance. 

  • “Reopening the Economy, Returning to the Workplace, Reinforcing Health Protections” panel featured leading industry executives discussing reopening strategies, operational protocols, potential liability concerns and more.  The discussion is available to stream at your convenience.  Separately, Roundtable Board Member and Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee Chair Tony Malkin (Chairman and CEO, Empire State Realty Trust, Inc.) was interviewed on CNBC this week on safety protocols and other measures that can be utilized for reopening businesses.  (CNBC interview, July 9)

  • Governor Jared Polis (D-CO) focused on Colorado’s approach to managing the outbreak, as it has recently reopened most businesses while practicing social distancing.  In his video interview, “States Set the Pace,” Gov. Polis discusses how state government can work with the real estate industry on practical safety measures to help businesses looking to reopen.

  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner (2017-2019) and Roundtable Chair Debra Cafaro discussed medical aspects of the novel coronavirus and his health policy perspectives on the crisis.  Dr. Gottlieb noted, “We still have a slowly expanding epidemic in the United States” that has a high case fatality rate.  He added that the world could see multiple vaccines with some targeting specific populations based on age or other factors.

  • Charlie Cook, Editor and Publisher of the Cook Political Group, outlined the dynamics of the upcoming election cycle during a health pandemic and economic downturn. Cook emphasized the importance of approximately 5 percent of independent voters who will make a choice in an election without third-party candidates. 

Roundtable Policy Committees 

The Roundtable’s Policy Advisory Committees and associated task forces also met remotely in conjunction with the Annual Meeting, offering a combination of live and recorded presentations for participants.  A video featuring all Roundtable Committee Chairs providing updates on each committee’s policy efforts is available on The Roundtable’s youtube channel.  

This week’s committee meetings analyzed policy issues in detail with high-level congressional and agency staff:

  • Research and Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committee (RECPAC):
    Rep. French Hill (R-AR), who serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the Congressional Oversight Commission on the CARES Act, provided insights on recent and future COVID-19 economic relief and stimulus during this joint committee meeting.  Additionally, industry experts discussed the state of real estate capital and credit markets, including the Fed’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF). 
  • Tax Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC):
    House Ways & Means Chief Tax Counsel Andrew Grossman joined TPAC to share his perspective on committee priorities and the tax legislative outlook.  A panel of leading real estate tax authorities also discussed legislative proposals focused on the current distress in U.S. real estate – particularly debt restructurings, impaired rent and cancellation of indebtedness (COD) income.  Additional wide-ranging tax policy TPAC discussions are available on demand: 

  • Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC):
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency speakers provided an update on the ENERGY STAR certification program and its Portfolio Manager Benchmarking tool in the Covid-19 Era.  EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) speakers discussed “Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Workplaces.”  SPAC members also focused on “Healthy Building Strategies in a Global Pandemic” with the senior executives from the Center for Active Design and the International WELL Building Institute.  
  • Homeland Security Task Force meeting (HSTF) and Risk Management Working Group (RMWG):
    The joint meeting attendees heard briefings by government officials on the threat of civil unrest, looting, homegrown violent extremists and organized attacks on commercial properties – and the security, management and health challenges related to building re-entry.  The Task Force was also briefed on the need to enact a federal business continuity/pandemic risk program aimed at providing capacity for policyholders in need of insurance protection from the enormous costs associated with pandemics.

Next on The Roundtable’s meeting calendar is the September 22 Fall Meeting, which is restricted to Roundtable-level members only.  The Roundtable has also posted its 2021 meeting calendar dates.

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Policymakers and Industry Leaders Address Affordable Housing and Other National Issues as The Roundtable Rolls Out 2020 Policy Agenda

The Real Estate Roundtable’s 2020 State of the Industry (SOI) Meeting this week in Washington featured discussions with policymakers and industry leaders on affordable housing solutions, economic development and job creation, infrastructure, tax regulations affecting CRE and other national issues. 

Policy Issues & Featured Speakers   
The SOI meeting included the following speakers: 

  • Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria addressed his agency’s oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) – who own or guarantee $5.6 trillion in single and multifamily mortgages. Dr. Calabria spoke about the conservatorships the GSEs have operated under since 2008 and the need to responsibly privatize them while ensuring sufficient private capital is in place to protect taxpayers, along with access to affordable rental housing.
  • House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-NC) focused on affordable housing in the discussion with Dr. Calabria, moderated by Willy Walker, chairman & CEO, Walker & Dunlop.  Rep. McHenry has served as Chief Deputy Whip to build consensus for the House Republican Conference’s agenda – including passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last year.  He spoke about his committee’s recent hearings on challenges for effective affordable housing policies, which include a decrease in available housing supply due in part to counterproductive regulations and zoning laws at local and state levels.
  • House Ways and Means Committee Member Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) is the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress and a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee that originates tax legislation affecting the industry.  Rep. Murphy spoke of her efforts to build consensus among her House colleagues by co-chairing the Blue Dog Coalition, a bloc of Democrats who emphasize fiscal restraint – and her efforts to build a solutions-oriented policy approach that can bridge the gap between left and right.
  • Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (D), recently re-elected, discussed her state-wide successes in attracting increased economic investment, decreasing unemployment and implementing innovative solutions to the challenges of homelessness and affordable housing.  Gov. Raimondo spoke of her recent proposal to build more affordable housing using a housing bond and dedicated funding stream, along with her support for the federal Opportunity Zones program.  She also discussed her executive order committing Rhode Island to be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity by the end of the decade. 
  • Mike Allen, co-founder and Executive Editor of Axios – a three-year old digital media company delivering news and insights on policy, politics, business and tech – discussed the confluence of this election cycle, social media and the “War for Attention” to gain consumer, and voter, brand loyalty.
  • George Will, syndicated columnist and political commentator, concluded the meeting’s evening event with comments on how historical, economic and societal trends directly influence the current political environment, providing a bellwether for what can be anticipated in future elections.

Roundtable Policy Committees 
SOI also included meetings of The Roundtable’s policy advisory committees, which analyzed policy issues in detail with high-level congressional and agency staff.

  • Research and Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committee (RECPAC):
    During this joint meeting, two panels of industry experts addressed  investment and market insights into the current real estate market cycle, along with the state of real estate capital and debt markets.
  • Tax Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC):
    The chief tax counsels from the Senate Committee on Finance discussed what lay ahead for tax legislative priorities affecting commercial real estate.  The discussion, moderated by Russ Sullivan (Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck), included Mark Warren, chief tax counsel for Senate Finance Committee Republicans and Tiffany Smith, chief tax counsel for Senate Finance Committee Democrats.  Additional discussions delved into recent and future real estate-related tax regulations with Treasury Department Attorney-Advisor Bryan Rimmke, as well as new Opportunity Zone rules, proposed LIBOR tax regulations, and the tax challenges confronting foreign investment in US real estate.  
  • Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC):
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency speakers provided an update on the ENERGY STAR for Tenants program.  Additionally, U.S. Energy Information Administration speakers provided SPAC information on the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) and its impact on ENERGY STAR scores. The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) discussed its efforts to create a carbon pricing market — an emerging issue as the real estate sector confronts rising obligations to draw clean power from a de-carbonized electric grid.  
  • Homeland Security Task Force meeting (HSTF) and Risk Management Working Group (RMWG):
    The joint meeting attendees heard briefings by government officials on challenges presented by homelessness – and the risk picture posed by the coronavirus to the United States.  The Task Force was also briefed on cyber threats and the state of insurance markets after the recent seven-year reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), enacted one year before its scheduled expiration date – a major policy accomplishment of The Roundtable in 2019.

Next on The Roundtable’s FY2020 meeting calendar is the Spring Meeting on March 31 in Washington, DC.  This meeting is restricted to Roundtable-level members only.

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