Key Real Estate Industry Issues Queued Up for Congressional Lame-Duck Session

House and Senate leaders return to Washington this week with a focus on resolving appropriations and spending issues in time to avoid a looming government shutdown.

The resolution of those issues will be key in determining whether other legislation sought by the real estate industry makes it over the finish line before Congress adjourns for the year.Federal lobbyists for NAIOP, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and other industry trade groups are actively working to ensure passage of the following priority bills in the ‘lame-duck’ session of Congress:

  • Terrorism risk insurance (TRIA). Renewal of this federal program is critical to ensuring that coverage for property losses from acts of terrorism will be included in insurance policies — something required by most lenders, especially for buildings or structures in major cities. Delaying action on extending TRIA is an unnecessary disruption to the industry’s capacity to grow, and both NAIOP and NAR have called on Congress to pass a long-term extension of the program.
  • Tax legislation. Included among the 55 expiring or expired tax provisions are the reduction of leasehold improvement deprecation to 15 years, and mortgage debt forgiveness for homeowners who agree to a short sale. NAIOP and NAR are asking Congress to retroactively extend both critical tax provisions.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky) has stated that he wants Congress to have a “clean slate” in January, rather than having to deal with unfinished business. However, the election results could complicate matters because many Republicans are advocating that any substantial legislation be left until next year, when they will have a majority in both chambers.

The government will shut down in early December unless a “continuing resolution” is passed, keeping the government running. Appropriators, like Rogers, however, do not like stopgap measures such as continuing resolutions because they tend to keep current funding levels rather than allowing Congress to make policy changes.

Influential Senate conservatives, such as Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), are calling for very little legislating during the lame duck Congress, preferring to wait until the new Senate convenes next year. Rogers would rather enter into conference negotiations with his Senate appropriations counterparts in the lame duck and resolve policy differences, combining bills into an “omnibus” that passes in time to be signed by the president before year’s end.

Source: NAIOP & NAR

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