Today Congress passed a short-term spending bill that keeps the government running through December 11, 2015, and, among other incidentals, the EB-5 Regional Center program running without changes for the same period.

So what’s likely to happen between now and December 11, the deferred sunset date for the Regional Center program? Not counting today, the Regional Center program has been reauthorized six times since 1992 (in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009, 2012), and almost every time the authorization happened the way it did today, as part of the appropriations process. 2012 was the only time the Regional Center program has had stand-alone legislation instead of being packaged with a spending bill. (The 2012 legislation passed unanimously in the Senate and by a vote of 412-3 in the House, and made a few tweaks to the Regional Center statute and no changes to direct EB-5.) But many lobbyists have opined that we shouldn’t expect another simple extension of the Regional Center program from December 11; we should anticipate legislation with substantive changes. Reportedly a collection of Congressional representatives interested in EB-5 have actually gotten together and formed a working group that has been meeting to discuss the Regional Center program and hammer out legislation fit to garner the bipartisan, bicameral, and urban-rural support that it will need to pass. The group is expected to go public with a work product soon, now that the short-term extension is in place. These same lobbyists have mentioned that the two most contentious issues for this group are the Targeted Employment Area definition and effective dates. Some on the main sticking points haw to do with the  “haves” and “have nots,” and interested parties each hope to be on the side of the “haves” when it comes to enjoying the TEA incentive and taking advantage of grandfathering if any. The lobbyists didn’t mention argument over new integrity measures or an increase to the minimum EB-5 investment amount; maybe those are givens. Also, there are no serious rumors that the EB-5 Regional Center program will be dropped — $14.38 billion in foreign direct investment is a pretty big golden egg, and that’s what EB-5 has brought in since the beginning, with $1.4 billion in the last quarter alone –However, don’t expect that the next three months will be easy. Congress reportedly still has a low appetite for immigration issues since the Executive Actions on immigration, and it has so much to fight about between now and December besides EB-5.

Stay tuned.