September in DC: Congress Returns from Summer Recess; EB-5 Reauthorization Deadline Quickly Approaching
Now that Labor Day weekend is over, Members and their staff returned to Capitol Hill for a whirlwind of a September with many pressing issues to address, including funding the federal government before the month’s end. IIUSA continues to be actively engaged in a bipartisan, bicameral manner with key congressional offices. Important ongoing discussions within House and Senate Judiciary and Appropriations Committees and congressional leadership will soon turn to action as Congress returns from summer recess with a lot to do before the month ends.
The EB-5 Regional Center Program (the “Program”) was named by Bloomberg as the #5 item on a list of 19 “to-do’s” – many of which will need to be included in a funding package for the federal government before the end of the month. In short, the EB-5 reauthorization will need to a part of the Continuing Resolution (“CR”) to avoid any lapse in the program, which would be detrimental to communities across the U.S. relying on critical foreign direct investment.
As the EB-5 industry faces yet another sunset date at the end of September, it is essential that we remain united in our message to Congress:
EB-5 must be reauthorized, without a lapse, to ensure job creation and investment in regional economic development projects for our communities.
As an industry that has come so far in the past year in its ability to build policy consensus from a diverse set of interests, it is imperative that we continue to speak with a unified voice, echoing the positions of the joint industry letter. IIUSA continues to work with diverse stakeholder groups that have grown more vocal in support of EB-5 and will have a follow up joint-letter from the industry to Congress to make sure Congress acts to protect the billions of dollars of ongoing economic activity on the line that supports an essential part of the U.S. economy.
What to Expect this Month
For several months now, we have been waiting for the introduction of a new EB-5 bill from the Chairman and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. While we have talked with key Judiciary Committee staff about our position on the key issues over the last several months, the draft legislation has been kept confidential up to this point. We expect to see a new bill shortly after Congress returns, potentially as early as this week.
In all likelihood, the legislation will follow the framework of discussion drafts circulated in December 2015 – with some new additions. The industry will need to be ready to respond quickly and with one voice to ensure the effect of proposed reforms on the U.S. economy are fully understood by Congress and the public as we proceed through the legislative process in both chambers of Congress – and in the home stretch of a presidential election with control of Congress hanging in the balance.
With less than a month to secure a reauthorization, it is unlikely that necessary and substantial reforms to the EB-5 Program will get done before September 30. Much like last year, we are pushing for EB-5 to be included as part of the Continuing Resolution (CR). Inclusion in the CR would allow for short-term extension (likely into December) while the Judiciary Committees continue their work on a long-term reauthorization that includes commonsense national security and anti-fraud reforms. The extra months of a CR – no matter how long – would be essential for Congress and the industry to work together on finalizing reasonable and necessary reforms to enhance Program effectiveness and ensure long-term reauthorization and reform that addresses critical issues of uncertainty, capacity, and integrity.
At this point, it is impossible to predict when Congress will enact a long-term reauthorization, whether during the “Lame Duck” session after the November election or sometime in 2017 when a new Congress begins and a new Administration is formed. Much will depend on broader political dynamics surrounding the election, immigration policy, and upcoming appropriations/fiscal deadline facing Congress. Meanwhile, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is actively shaping the future of EB-5 with public statements of forthcoming draft regulations on Targeted Employment Areas (“TEAs”), job creation methodologies, minimum investment amounts, and Regional Center amendment/designation process that could be published as soon as November for public comments. It also has proposed significant revisions to Form I-526 and continue to work closely with federal agency partners like the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission to protect the integrity of the Program so it can continue to be an engine of U.S. job creation.
As always, our job is to ensure EB-5’s essential role in the U.S. economy is understood by policymakers and their constituents in this critical time for the Program, as detailed below.
How Can You Help?
The most important step that industry stakeholders can take during this critical time is to contact your legislators. Let them know the important work you are doing in their states and districts, creating jobs and opportunities for the communities they represent as a direct result of EB-5 investment.
To find your elected officials and send them a message, click here. This will take you to a pre-drafted letter that allows you to fill in economic impact information from your work in EB-5 and quickly send it to all of your legislators in Congress. If you have projects in more than one state, make sure to send the letter to Representatives and Senators in each state.
Additionally, IIUSA recently created state-level economic impact summary documents that show EB-5 economic impact as well as provide examples of successful projects in the respective states. The two-page summary documents, available here, are ideal for Congressional outreach by industry stakeholders, as they are concise visual tools that illustrate the real impact of EB-5 investment in terms of job creation and economic development. Also available is a new interactive map that shows success stories from all across the country.
EB-5 Success Stories
IIUSA has an important leadership role to play among stakeholders to address the unprecedented challenges that the EB-5 Regional Center industry faces today. Thanks to the hard-work and contributions of the Board of Directors, President’s Advisory Council and Program Champions, as well as its 12 standing committees , IIUSA is well positioned to constructively engage in all areas of policy development while continuing to raise the professional conduct of industry participants through education and best practices development. We welcome your organization’s support and contributions to these ongoing efforts. If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of supporting IIUSA’s Leadership Fund, please click here.
This month will inevitably go by fast, but we must keep our collective goal front and center: ensuring that there is no lapse of the EB-5 Regional Center Program. If we remain vigilant and committed to the industry policy consensus, together we can engage in constructive conversations with Congress in the weeks and months ahead to secure a brighter future for the EB-5 industry and American communities relying on its contribution to the U.S. economy for years to come.
Any questions on the above information can be directed to Ashley Sanislo Casey, Associate Director of Advocacy, at email@example.com or Nicole Merlene, Advocacy Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter D. Joseph