Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a statement today in response to an announcement by the Department of Justice and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency of a settlement requiring Capital One Bank to pay approximately $12 million in damages to servicemembers for violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The agreement covers wrongful foreclosures, wrongful automobile repossessions, wrongful court judgments, and inflated interest rates on credit cards, car loans, and other types of accounts. Thousands of servicemembers will be identified and compensated going back to July 15, 2006, with no action required on their part.
"I applaud the Administration for taking aggressive action to hold financial institutions accountable for violating the rights of servicemembers," Cummings said. "Now it's time for Congress to pass my legislation to expand foreclosure protections for the men and women who serve our nation in uniform."
Cummings introduced H.R. 5747, the Military Family Home Protection Act, to significantly expand home foreclosure protections to servicemembers serving in support of contingency operations, surviving spouses of servicemembers whose deaths are service-related, and veterans who are 100% disabled at the time of discharge due to service-connected injuries. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV has sponsored companion legislation in the Senate.
On May 18, 2012, the House overwhelmingly passed Cummings' legislation by a vote of 394 to 27 as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment was co-sponsored by Rep. Bob Filner, Ranking Member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, and Rep. Adam Smith, Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee.
Five prominent military and veterans organizations have issued letters supporting the legislation: American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, and Military Officers Association of America.
Cummings has been at the forefront of Congressional efforts to protect servicemembers from abusive financial practices. He issued a report entitled Fighting on the Home Front detailing how multiple banks had violated the SCRA by illegally foreclosing on servicemembers and charging fees in excess of those permitted by the SCRA. He also held a joint bicameral forum with Senator Rockefeller on this issue.
Cummings' work has been recognized by Holly Petraeus, the Director of the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.