Mr. NEAL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight a bill that I'm introducing with my good friend and colleague from Ohio, Representative Tiberi, the Update and Streamline REIT Act (or U.S. REIT Act). I think it's important to note that the precursor to today's REITs began as Massachusetts business trusts over a hundred years ago. In 1960, an Act of Congress democratized investment in real estate, an asset class that had traditionally only been available to institutional investors and the wealthy, by authorizing the creation of REITs, widely-held entities that own and operate large-scale, income-producing real estate.
Since the Congressional authorization of REITs in 1960, Congress periodically has updated the REIT rules in a bipartisan manner to enable the industry to adapt to a changing marketplace and to evolve consistent with its original mandate. The U.S. REIT Act would continue that tradition.
Among other things, consistent with a provision in the Obama Administration's FY 2012 and FY 2013 Budgets, and Congressional repeal of a similar rule for publicly offered mutual funds in 2010, the U.S. REIT Act would repeal the preferential dividend rule for ``publicly offered'' REITs. Publicly traded REITs as a whole have invested over $18 billion to date in a variety of Massachusetts properties, including malls, office buildings, health care, hotel, self-storage and other properties. As a former mayor, I recognize that these companies and their tenants are the bedrock of local economies, improving communities, advertising locally, and generating property and sales taxes that support local schools districts and first responders.
I am proud to have been a co-sponsor of legislation over the years that have refined the REIT rules to ensure that REITs can continue to provide the benefits envisioned by Congress to investors from all walks of life, and I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation.