U.S. Senator Jack Reed's plan to help protect the financial well-being of thousands of U.S. troops and their families gained momentum this week when it received bipartisan approval from a key Senate panel. Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs unanimously passed Reed's legislation to expand mortgage and foreclosure protections for military families as part of the Servicemembers' Protection Act.
Military families have been disproportionately impacted by the housing crisis. While the recent housing market has proven challenging for many homeowners, military families face unique challenges because they transfer on orders and may be unable to buy or sell their house at a financially appropriate time. Additionally, foreclosure can affect a service member's security clearance and career track.
Earlier this year, Senator Reed was joined by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Mark Begich (D-AK), and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden in calling on Congress to pass his Servicemember Housing Protection Act to expand and strengthen the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which caps the interest rate on mortgage loans to active-duty members of the military at 6 percent and prohibits lenders from foreclosing on homes owned by active-duty members of the military without a judge's order.
"I am pleased this legislation has been cleared by the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and hope the full Senate will soon act on a bipartisan basis to help protect our troops and their families. Giving military personnel time to prepare for deployment and get their financial affairs in order is central to mission readiness. The men and women of our Armed Forces who are fighting on the frontlines to protect our country shouldn't have to needlessly fight with creditors and landlords back home. We must ensure the laws that protect our troops keep pace with the challenges they face," said Reed, a former Army Ranger.
In a letter to Senator Reed, members of the Military Coalition wrote: "The Military Coalition supports The Servicemember Housing Protection Act and pledges its full support for enactment this year."
Reed's legislation would:
* Make it easier for active-duty personnel to claim deployment-related financial and credit protections by expanding what could be submitted to constitute "military orders;"
* Extend foreclosure protections to surviving spouses; and
* Facilitate the transition from off-base to on-base housing by making it easier to terminate residential leases early and without penalty if on-base housing becomes available.
Now that the bill has been approved by the Veterans' Affairs Committee, it must be passed by the full Senate.