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Lawmakers paint different pictures of Trump's 'opportunity zone' program

Lawmakers paint different pictures of Trump's 'opportunity zone' program
© Marissa Salzman

Lawmakers on opposite sides of the aisle painted contrasting pictures Thursday of the “opportunity zones” created by President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE’s 2017 tax law.

Speaking at a forum in Charlotte, N.C., hosted by The Hill, Rep. Ralph NormanRalph Warren NormanHillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it House rebuffs GOP lawmaker's effort to remove references to Democrats in Capitol MORE (R-S.C.) praised the portion of the law that provides capital gains tax breaks to investors who make investments in designated economically distressed areas.

“[Opportunity zones] are the greatest things that have happened in this country,” Norman said at the forum sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders.

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Norman said the program encourages private developers to buy certain tracts of land while promoting investment in low-income areas.

He also rejected the argument that government grants and assistance are needed to improve the program.

“We have a job to do in getting this country out of a national debt,” Norman said. “I am not adding to $22 trillion. I wasn’t sent [to Congress] to do that.”

Rep. Alma AdamsAlma Shealey AdamsRecord number of Black women elected to Congress in 2020 Armed Trump supporter arrested at North Carolina polling place From HBCUs to Capitol Hill: How Congress can play an important role MORE (D-N.C.), who also spoke at the forum, said she’s seeking to make changes to the program, which has drawn criticism from fellow House Democrats.

“I don’t want to see the intent of those opportunity zones misused in a way that the people who don’t need that tax credit to be able to use it,” Adams said.

Adams is a co-sponsor of the Opportunity Zone Reform Act, which was introduced in November. The measure would eliminate investments for casinos and would prohibit investments in stadiums, parking lots and luxury apartments. It would also declassify zones that are no longer low-income, replacing them with qualifying regions.

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The bill currently has nine Democratic co-sponsors in the House.

Adams also argued that there should be more of a focus on affordable housing. She said the federal government should put more money into grant funding.

“We have categories of people who are still without decent places to live,” Adams said.