WASHINGTON, D.C. – RealEstateRama – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) announced that Norton’s 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, passed the House today. The bill passed out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in July.
“Today’s House passage brings us a step closer to eliminating the inefficient, wasteful, and redundant involvement of the Securities and Exchange Commission 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 look forward to Senate passage of this important bill.”
“The passage of the Securities and Exchange Commission Real Estate Leasing Authority Revocation Act returns control of government real estate decisions to where it belongs: the General Services Administration,” Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said. “Including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in this process was inefficient, financially costly, and directed the SEC away from their mission and outside their area of expertise. I commend Chair Norton on her work facilitating this common-sense legislation and I look forward to this bill becoming law, officially ending the SEC’s leasing authority and saving money for the American taxpayer.”
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, GSA entered into a headquarters lease for the SEC, and the SEC said it will use GSA in future real estate procurements, but Norton’s bill would ensure the SEC uses GSA in the future.