HOUSE PASSES NORTON BILL REVOKING SEC’S INDEPENDENT LEASING AUTHORITY
WASHINGTON, D.C. – RealEstateRama – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that the House today passed her Securities and Exchange Commission Real Estate Leasing Authority Revocation Act, which would revoke the independent real estate leasing authority of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and direct the Government Accountability Office to update its 2016 report on independent real estate leasing authority. The bill passed the House in September during the 117th Congress.
“It is inefficient, wasteful, and redundant to have the Securities and Exchange Commission involved in real estate decisions when the General Services Administration exists for that very reason,” Norton said. “The SEC should focus on its core mission of protecting investors, maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitating capital formation — not on real estate procurements, which are outside its expertise. Congress created this problem by granting the SEC leasing authority, and now Congress must fix it by revoking that authority. I applaud today’s House vote on this important bill.”
Under the bill, the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal government’s civilian real estate arm, would handle SEC real estate procurements. Congress granted the SEC independent leasing authority in 1990, before Norton was in Congress. Since then, the SEC has wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars as it has stumbled through leasing mistake after leasing mistake.
Norton first introduced this bill in 2011, after the SEC engaged in an improper sole-source procurement of nearly one million square feet of leased space. Then-SEC Chairwoman Mary L. Schapiro promised in a congressional hearing that the SEC would allow GSA to handle its real estate procurements to avoid such issues in the future. However, the SEC subsequently vetoed a multi-million-dollar procurement completed on its behalf by GSA. The SEC then refused to document its concerns to Congress, and justified its actions using the leasing authority it had previously promised not to use. In September 2021, after much back and forth between the two agencies, GSA entered into a headquarters lease for the SEC, and the SEC said it will use GSA in future real estate procurements. Norton’s bill would ensure that while the SEC would continue to have input in the decision making process, the ultimate real estate authority would lie with GSA in the future.