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Legislative Update: Jump Starting the 114th Congress for Housing


First Quarter - 2015

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by Robert C. Moss

The new Congress has convened and all indications are that the tax-writing committees will hit the ground running. Recently, with our friends from the Housing Advisory Group, we had several key meetings on the Hill. 

As is always the case with a new Congress, there are numerous changes in staff, which is why every new Congress is a clean slate and opportunity to educate Members and staff once again about the many benefits of the LIHTC and affordable housing programs. We were very encouraged by the warm welcome CohnReznick received in every office, and for the support for the LIHTC.
 
Efforts for Continued Congressional Support:

CohnReznick members had productive meetings with staff of our 113th Congress House and Senate Champions – Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH). We also met with the Democratic Senior Tax Counsel for the Finance Committee and with staff of Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). While we were primarily focusing this visit on the tax-writing committees, we did take the opportunity to visit with key staff to Appropriations Committee member Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to voice our concern about cuts in the HUD budget and the sequestration cuts coming at the end of September 2015. We also met with staff of Senate Finance Committee member Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and staff of House Ways and Means Committee member Peter Roskam (R-IL) and new Ways and Means Committee member Jason Smith (R-MO). We were very fortunate to have a few minutes to visit with Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and his staff; Rep. Reichert reaffirmed his strong support for the program.
 
Comprehensive Tax Reform On the Agenda. Again.

Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) has taken the helm of the Ways and Means Committee, and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Both have expressed a strong desire to overhaul the tax code, and have already started the effort.  On January 13, Chairman Ryan held his first Committee meeting that featured a panel of leading economists discussing policies and solutions to promote job creation and economic growth.  At the hearing, Chairman Ryan noted that the tax code is broken and needs to be made simpler, fairer, and flatter. Chairman Ryan expects an aggressive agenda on tax reform, and held a retreat January 28th with his Republican members to discuss a time line and more details on how he plans to proceed on the Committee's agenda.
 
On January 15, Finance Committee Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced the formation of five working groups to analyze current tax law and develop recommendations for comprehensive reform.  You will recall that in the 113th Congress, former Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) created 11 tax reform working groups to examine issue areas, but his working groups did not produce recommendations for reform. As was the case with the Camp working groups, the Finance Committee working groups are bipartisan and co-chaired by at least one Republican and one Democrat. Chairman Hatch and Senator Wyden have asked the working groups to complete their work and make recommendations by late May. While a great deal of work on tax reform was done in the last Congress, this is still an ambitious schedule. The working group for the LIHTC is the Community Development and Infrastructure Group, Co-Chaired by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO).
 
Agreement on comprehensive tax reform will be a heavy lift, but there is some possibility that Congress might try to pass a slimmed-down tax reform package that would cover business reforms, but not individual reforms. We need to be ready for whatever scenario plays out. And, in the event there is no tax reform package, we could be back in the same situation we found ourselves last year with respect to extenders -- such as our 9% minimum credit.

Onward and forward for 2015. Thanks to all of you who have joined the #HousingParty! Don’t forget to tweet!


Bob Moss is a CohnReznick Principal and National Director of Governmental Affairs. Bob leads the Firm’s federal and state government relations efforts, particularly in the area of affordable housing. He can be reached at bob.moss@cohnreznick.com or 617-648-1406.

For more legislative insight from Bob, visit our Capitol Connection webpage.

Follow Bob: @BobMoss42


This has been prepared for information purposes and general guidance only and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and CohnReznick LLP, its members, employees and agents accept no liability, and disclaim all responsibility, for the consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.

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