Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment sponsored by Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) that expands foreclosure protections for members of the military and their families. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act approved by a 394-27 vote.
"Members of our military and their families should never lose their homes because they're defending our country," Yarmuth said. "This legislation protects our troops and their families, and it makes good on our commitments to them for serving our country with honor."
The amendment closes loopholes in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, legislation approved in 2003 to protect members of the military from certain civil actions, such as foreclosure. It expands the SCRA to include troops serving in support of contingency operations, surviving spouses of servicemembers whose death was service-connected, and veterans who were 100 percent disabled at the time of discharge due to service-connected injuries.
The amendment also mandates a permanent stay of foreclosure proceedings for a 12-month period, a three-month increase from current law. In addition, it cracks down on aggressive tactics by banks during foreclosure proceedings relating to servicemembers and veterans.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve are in the process of reviewing thousands of improper foreclosures on the homes of military personnel by 10 mortgage servicers or banks that may be in violation of the SCRA. The amendment increases fines for violations of the SCRA to serve as a greater deterrent and to reflect the serious nature of these violations.
It also requires lenders to designate a compliance officer to protect the legal rights of servicemembers, and it requires banks with assets over $10 billion to provide a toll-free telephone number and website for servicemembers dealing with SCRA problems.
The legislation has broad support from military and veterans groups, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Disabled American Veterans.
The amendment was also sponsored by Rep. Elijiah Cummings (MD), Rep. Bruce Braley (IA), Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA), Rep. Bob Filner (CA), Rep. Mike Michaud (ME), Rep. Adam Smith (WA), and Rep. John Tierney (MA).