TRANSPORTATION, TREASURY, THE JUDICIARY, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (Senate - October 20, 2005)
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Ms. LANDRIEU. The amendment I was going to offer to the underlying HUD appropriations bill is part of a blueprint for action that our delegation--Republicans and Democrats--from Louisiana has asked the Congress to consider. Not only would this work for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas today, but if something like this were in law, it could work for every city and every State in the event that some catastrophic event occurred, where hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed and people were displaced.
My amendment, which I am not going to ask for a vote on but will offer at some time, would provide for a 6-month deferral from mortgages--not a waiver of mortgages, not a forgiveness of mortgages, but 6 months for Americans, for families to get their legs underneath them, until they can figure out what their insurance is going to cover and not cover, where their children might go to school, where they might find a job. These are Americans who have worked hard, played by the rules, invested in their home--which is their largest asset--and, in the blink of an eye, it is gone.
In the United States of America, in the year 2005, we do not have in place a system to give them a break--not for a month, not for 2 months, not for 3 months.
The average savings on a mortgage would be $4,317 in Louisiana, $4,740 in Alabama, $4,131 in Mississippi, and $4,875 would be a 6-month average mortgage. The families in my State could use this extra money. No administrative costs, no contractors, no fraud, no waste, no abuse, simple, 6-month deferment on mortgages, put 6 months at the end of your mortgage, give people some cash and breathing room.
It is a sound amendment. Our delegation thinks it is good. We cannot pass it tonight, but I think we have to have a better system of help for Americans who get caught in storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, or, for heaven's sake, a terrorist attack. The system we have in place is not working: $62 billion to FEMA, $43 billion sits in a bank. Nobody is getting money. Nobody is getting help. People are stuck in hotels. There is no plan for housing. I could go on and on.
We need to do better. I will withdraw this amendment at this time, but we will offer it again to give people hope, 6 months of a break until they can figure out whether they can rebuild, come back, or move to another place.
I thank my colleagues for their patience.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.