Trump signs order aimed at revitalizing economically distressed communities

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech 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 Carson'Housing First' approach won't solve homelessness crisis Clarence Thomas blasts his Biden-led confirmation hearings: 'The idea was to get rid of me' Affordable housing crisis demands urgent, sustained action 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 MnuchinLawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — House Dems charge Trump with abuse, obstruction of Congress in impeachment articles White House, Democrats edge closer to deal on trade 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 ScottTrump to sign order penalizing colleges over perceived anti-Semitism on campus: report Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump GOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements 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 TrumpAuthor of Steele dossier had 'cordial' relationship with Ivanka Trump: report Medicare administrator asked for reimbursement for stolen jewelry, clothing: report Tech finds surprise ally in Trump amid high-stakes tax fight MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today On The Money: White House, Dems edge closer to trade deal | GOP worries about Trump concessions | DOJ argues Congress can't sue Trump on emoluments | Former Fed chief Volcker dies White House, Democrats edge closer to deal on trade 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.