Washington has been quiet this week with Congress leaving town so lawmakers can campaign for the midterm elections. The House and Senate are scheduled to return on November 12 for the lame-duck session. Congress will then be faced with an agenda filled with must-pass items that could broadly impact the multifamily industry.
Specifically, the government is currently operating under a continuing resolution that funds executive departments and agencies through December 11. Legislation must be enacted to fund the government through the remainder of FY 2015 and to avoid a government-wide shutdown. This could be accomplished through a continuing resolution that funds the government at last year’s levels, or as part of an omnibus appropriations package that funds individual programs on a government-wide basis.
Congress is also likely to extend several dozen expired tax provisions. While most, if not all, are expected to be renewed for two years, through 2015, the House is angling to make several permanent. A final bill has yet to take shape, but the multifamily industry could benefit from a renewal of several provisions, including bonus depreciation, small business expensing, the flat 9 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, the Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction and the Energy-Efficient New Homes Tax Credit.
In addition, insurance industry experts are reporting that the pricing and availability of terrorism insurance is tightening given the uncertainty of congressional action to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. The Senate-passed bill and House Financial Services Committee-passed bill differ in many key areas such as duration and program triggers. One of two scenarios are likely during the lame-duck session - either the House and Senate agree to a comprehensive long-term reauthorization , or a short term extension is enacted, bumping full consideration of reauthorization into the next Congress.
NMHC/NAA, along with our industry partners, will continue to advocate for the House to enact a long-term reauthorization of the program because a short-term resolution does not provide market certainty. Our related advocacy efforts will include a media campaign, grassroots lobbying, and a member fly-in to reinforce industry’s position.
The future of action on the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule in the lame-duck session is also uncertain. The rule would significantly impact multifamily by expanding the scope of waters subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act. The House passed a bill that would block EPA’s rule and the Senate’s companion measure has not yet been considered. The comment period on the WOTUS rulemaking is open through October 20 and NMHC/NAA have already filed comments. In addition, we will be submitting a broader set of comments. It is our hope that the significant number of comments the agency is receiving could result in them rewriting the rule.
And finally, having passed an annual Defense Authorization Bill for over 50 years, Congress is expected to address the legislation in the lame-duck. However, the timing will limit consideration of amendments and conference negotiations. NMHC/NAA is working to build support for the House-passed bill, which preserves full funding of the Basic Allowance for Housing benefit that serves our military and their families.