Heading into the weekend, it appeared like a foregone conclusion that the EB-5 Regional Center program would pass as part of the continuing resolution. On Tuesday, the Senate failed to stop debate on the short-term CR in stalemates over issues of water crises, the Zika virus, VA medical care, and anything but the RC program. Needing a 60 vote majority to pass, the first vote failed, 45-55. A motion to reconsider also failed, 40-59. With a government shutdown looming, it appeared as though the RC program was set to lapse.
The Senate was able to break its stalemate the next day, and Congress has passed the CR bill. Pending the President’s signature, the RC program is being reauthorized “as-is,” or without reform. The CR temporarily funds government operations through December 9, 2016. Effectively, it offers only a 10-week program extension. There are still variables of uncertainty surrounding a reformed RC program, even as Forbes claims, “no one believes for a second that the EB-5 program gets cut.”
While a bipartisan effort to reform moves into its second year, the overwhelming consensus is that authorization of a three-year program extension is in store for 2017. Still, a Wall Street Journal blog provided perspective of senators ready to let the program die. Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) in particular was quoted stating, “a lot of powerful senators in this body think this program should be done away with.” If the program is extended as expected, specific changes are likely to include an increase in the minimum investment from $500,000 to $800,000 and improved integrity measures.