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Congressman Jim Himes Makes First Floor Speech

Press Release

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Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Jim Himes participated today in debate regarding the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) Reform and Accountability Act (H.R. 384). Congressman Himes chose this pivotal legislation to mark his first speech on the House floor.

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act was passed last year as a measure to prevent economic disaster as banks failed and stocks plummeted. The first half of the recovery package, $350 billion, has already been used; Congress must issue a resolution of approval to authorize the spending of the second $350 billion.

"Let us be absolutely clear, had our markets functioned, had our regulators protected us, had our leaders been sufficiently vigilant, neither the Troubled Assets Relief Program, nor its reform would have been necessary," Himes said.

This legislation will mandate that at least $40 billion of the next $350 billion will be used for foreclosure relief programs and to facilitate the refinancing of certain loans for at-risk borrowers. As a former executive at an affordable housing non-profit, the foreclosure relief aspects of the bill were of particular interest to Congressman Himes.

The TARP Reform and Accountability Act will also provide more transparency in how the funding is spent. Himes stated, "There can be no disagreement that if the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds are to be authorized, this House has an obligation to oversee their use. We owe it to the American taxpayer to closely watch how their money is used, and to assure that it is neither wasted nor used for private benefit."

As a former executive at an affordable housing non-profit, a 12-year executive at Goldman Sachs, and a member of the Financial Services Committee, Congressman Himes has a uniquely strong stake in the success of this bill.
"We cannot delay. We must act now to save the very core of the American dream," Himes said.

Video of Congressman Himes' Floor Statement

Text of Congressman Jim Himes' floor statement located below (as prepared for delivery):

I rise today in support of H.R. 384, a bill to reform the Troubled Assets Relief Program.

Let us be absolutely clear. Had our markets functioned, had our regulators protected us, had our leaders been sufficiently vigilant, neither the troubled assets relief program, nor its reform would have been necessary.

But extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures. Four months ago, the Troubled Assets Relief Program was deemed necessary. Yesterday in the Financial Services Committee, we heard from a long line of experts encouraging us to grant the President authority to use the remainder of the Troubled Assets Relief Program funds. On this question, perhaps people of good faith may disagree.

But there can be no disagreement that if those funds are to be authorized, this House has an obligation to oversee their use. We owe it to the American taxpayer to closely watch how their money is used, and to assure that it is neither wasted nor used for private benefit. This bill, at great long last, offers that assurance.

As importantly, there can be no disagreement that after providing relief to industry after industry, it is time to get to the heart of matter: American moms, dads, and children, and the homes that they live in. This bill, none too soon, mandates and funds a national comprehensive foreclosure relief plan that will finally address the root cause of this crisis. As the saying goes, better late than never.

When the sun goes down today, another 7,000 American families will have lost their home. The same will be true tomorrow. We cannot delay. We must act now to save the very core of the American dream. I commend Chairmen Frank for his leadership on this bill and urge my colleagues to stand for smart oversight and for the beleaguered American homeowner.


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