Trump signs order aimed at revitalizing economically distressed communities

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Coronavirus hits defense contractor jobs Wake up America, your country doesn't value your life MORE on Wednesday signed an executive order aimed at helping economically distressed communities, building off a provision in his tax-cut law.

The order creates a White House panel dubbed the Opportunity and Revitalization Council, which will be led by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonWhite House slams pastor leading Cabinet Bible studies for linking homosexuality, coronavirus Conservative group hits Trump for coronavirus response in new ad On The Money: Senate sends coronavirus aid package to Trump | Lawmakers race to draft next stimulus | Stocks close with steep loses | Treasury offers guidance on deferring tax payments MORE and consist of representatives from 13 federal agencies.

At a signing ceremony at the White House, Trump called the council a "very big thing" and said that the council will help utilize government resources to rebuild “impoverished neighborhoods that have been ignored by Washington in years past.”

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A senior White House official said ahead of the event that the council will be tasked with helping to engage with members of government at all levels about how to use funds to boost low-income communities.

The executive order is designed to supplement a piece of Trump's 2017 tax-cut law known as opportunity zones. Under the opportunity zone program, investors can receive capital-gains tax breaks if they invest in distressed areas that were certified by the Treasury Department.

More than 8,000 communities nationwide, where nearly 35 million people live, are in opportunity zones. Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinSunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on Struggling states warn coronavirus stimulus falls short Trump asserts power to decide what info inspector general gives Congress about stimulus package MORE has said that he expects that there will be about $100 billion in private capital invested in the zones.

Mnuchin, Carson and several other administration officials attended the executive-order signing, as did Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottHow much damage? The true cost of the Senate's coronavirus relief bill Senate unanimously passes T coronavirus stimulus package Senate rejects GOP attempt to change unemployment benefits in coronavirus stimulus bill MORE (R-S.C.) and several local-government officials and religious and business leaders.

The new White House council will aim to streamline and target existing federal programs so that they benefit opportunity zones, examine legislative proposals and potential regulatory reforms, develop reports on ways to encourage investments in distressed communities, and work to ensure that the government can collect the necessary data so that it can measure the results of the opportunity-zone program and governmental actions, the senior White House official said.

"The whole goal is to, one, leverage this private sector economic incentive through opportunity zones, and two, create that public commitment from the federal government to ensure that that economic incentive helps all Americans and would create a robust private-public partnership to revitalize communities," said Ja'Ron Smith, special assistant to the president on legislative affairs.

The opportunity zone program was championed heavily by Scott while the tax law was being written, and the idea has some bipartisan support.

But the program has also faced some scrutiny. The Associated Press on Tuesday reported that Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpTrump says first lady tested negative for coronavirus Pence says he will be tested for coronavirus Rush, Trish and left-leaning media: Is it opinion or news reporting? MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerWhite House preparing to promote malaria drugs on online platform to combat coronavirus: report Politics and the pandemic — Republicans are rightly worried In the Saudi-Russian oil price war, the US blinks first MORE, the president's daughter and son-in-law who work at the White House, could end up benefiting financially from the program.

Updated at 3:51 p.m.