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Tlaib introduces bill to repeal 'opportunity zones'

Tlaib introduces bill to repeal 'opportunity zones'
© Aaron Schwartz

Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibBiden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs Overnight Energy: EPA rule exempts many polluting industries from future air regulations | Ex-Michigan governor to be charged over Flint water crisis: report | Officials ousted from White House after papers casting doubt on climate science Ex-Michigan governor to be charged over Flint water crisis: report MORE (D-Mich.) on Friday introduced legislation to repeal the "opportunity zone" program created by President TrumpDonald TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency MORE's tax law, as the program has received increased scrutiny from lawmakers.

The opportunity zone portion of the 2017 tax law provides capital gains tax breaks to investors who make investments in designated economically-distressed areas. Democrats have become increasingly concerned about opportunity zones in recent weeks amid news reports that have focused on how wealthy people are benefiting from the program.

“The American people have been scammed by Opportunity Zones,” Tlaib, a prominent freshman progressive lawmaker, said in a news release. “Opportunity Zones were supposed to help uplift low-income communities and those living in poverty, but instead we are seeing them benefit billionaires and their luxury projects.

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"Our communities deserve resources and programs with proven track records to thrive – the current Opportunity Zone law fails to drive real benefits to low-income communities, instead often rewarding President Trump’s donors," she continued. "We must repeal them to stop yet another form of corporate greed from hurting our communities and tarnishing our democracy.”

Tlaib's legislation is one of several bills focused on opportunity zones introduced. Other bills don't repeal the full opportunity zone program but are aim to improve it by increasing guardrails and transparency.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHawley files ethics counter-complaint against seven Democratic senators Hillicon Valley: Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says | Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian hack on DOJ, courts | Airbnb offers Biden administration help with vaccine distribution Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says MORE (D-Ore.) and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) have introduced bills that would terminate opportunity zones that aren't low-income and prevent investments in certain types of projects, such as luxury apartment buildings, from being eligible. There are also bipartisan bills to create more reporting requirements about investments in opportunity zones.

Republicans continue to be supportive of opportunity zones, and even many Democrats also back the goals of the program, like increasing affordable housing.

A White House spokesperson said earlier this week that the Treasury Department is still finalizing rules to implement opportunity zones, so "it’s premature to make drastic changes to legislation that so far has created amazing results." 

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalPublic option won't serve the public The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history Rep. Adriano Espaillat tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-Wash.), co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is co-sponsoring Tlaib's bill. The bill has the backing of several progressive groups, including The Partnership for Working Families, Take On Wall Street and Americans for Financial Reform.