Reports of possible wrongdoing by senior administration officials in implementing the Opportunity Zone program prompted several members of Congress to request further study of how the program is managed, and the introduction of several bills to add transparency and parameters to the process.
Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., Sen. Cory A. Booker, D-N.J., and Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman John Lewis, D-Ga., said Wednesday that they have asked the Government Accountability Office to see if the program is achieving its purpose of spurring investment in low-income areas, along with how zones are designated, and whether program reporting guidelines and compliance are sufficient.
Mr. Wyden, also introduced legislation to impose what he said were much-needed guardrails and transparency measures. "The Opportunity Zone program has been troubled from the start. The Treasury Department has been steering potentially billions in tax breaks to Donald Trump's friends, and there are no safeguards to ensure taxpayers are not simply subsidizing handouts for billionaires with no benefit to the low-income communities this program was supposed to help," Mr. Wyden said in a statement.
Bipartisan legislation introduced Wednesday in the House by Reps. Ron Kind D-Wis., Mike Kelly, R-Pa. and Terri Sewell, D-Ala., calls for mandatory reporting requirements and penalties for noncompliance, as well as public reports. "Opportunity Zones were created to bring capital to communities in rural and underserved areas, but in order to ensure that this program is used as it was intended, we need strong transparency and accountability measures in place," Mr. Kind said in a statement.