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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 TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE’s 2017 tax law.

Speaking at a forum in Charlotte, N.C., hosted by The Hill, Rep. Ralph NormanRalph Warren NormanRepublican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC Fallen Capitol Police officer to lie in honor in Rotunda Capitol Police back bill to allow officer to lie in honor 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 AdamsHouse Democrats call on Biden to fill Postal Service Board vacancies to pave way for ousting DeJoy Overnight Health Care: New COVID-19 cases nationally drop below 100K for first time in 2021 | CDC warns states against lifting restrictions amid threat of virus variants | Health officials warn COVID-19 eradication unlikely Black maternal health omnibus package introduced by Democratic lawmakers 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.