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Public Statements

Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007

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Location: Washington, DC


MORTGAGE REFORM AND ANTI-PREDATORY LENDING ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - November 15, 2007)

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Mr. ROSKAM. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Like many others, I very much appreciate the tone and the effort of the chairman and the ranking member to come to terms with a very difficult problem that is facing our country, and that is the subprime mortgage crisis and the ripple effect, the profound ripple effect it is having throughout the economy.

My sense, though, is that while there are some very good elements in the bill, I appreciate the fact that it is prospective, I appreciate the fact that it is not a bailout, and I appreciate the fact that its focus is limited to subprime mortgages and not prime mortgages, there is an element that is of enough concern to me to come to the floor and bring it to the House's attention.

I am not unique in bringing it to the House's attention, but I urge a real sense of caution, and I think we can do slightly better, and that is the ambiguity of some of the phrases and definitions in the bill. The gentleman from Georgia referenced these in his remarks.

But when regulatory language, as this is, has words like ``appropriate'' without further definition; ``ability to repay'' without further definition; and ``net tangible benefit'' without further definition, I think it is a weakness in the bill, and I think it is a fatal flaw in the bill.

My hope is that these ambiguities will be cleaned up. I am not one that says we necessarily need to yield this turf to the regulators. I think we as Members of Congress have that ability and that responsibility to define these terms. Because if we don't, I think what will happen is that capital that is currently available to subprime borrowers will become unavailable to some subprime borrowers.

There is language that creates the purported safe harbor in the bill, but it is a safe harbor that does not end with a period at the end of the sentence, essentially. It is a safe harbor that has a comma at the end and is simply a rebuttable presumption. So safe harbors are mostly safe, but not entirely safe.

I think Americans like to be governed with a light touch and not a heavy hand, and I hope that we can revisit this bill when it may come back from the other body.

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