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 TrumpNew Capitol Police chief to take over Friday Overnight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Michael Wolff and the art of monetizing gossip MORE’s 2017 tax law.

Speaking at a forum in Charlotte, N.C., hosted by The Hill, Rep. Ralph NormanRalph Warren NormanEthics panel upholds 0 mask fines against Greene, other GOP lawmakers GOP lawmakers press airlines on flight cancellations 'I want to cry': House Republicans take emotional trip to the border 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 AdamsIn honor of Mother's Day, lawmakers should pass the Momnibus Act Officials discuss proposals for fixing deep disparities in education digital divide The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - At 50 days in charge, Democrats hail American Rescue Plan as major win 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.