Joining the efforts of Democratic leaders to keep the House in session, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) wrote today to House Speaker John Boehner, urging him to include help for homeowners as an item Congress should address prior to recessing before the elections. Republicans recently announced that this Friday would be the last day of House business until November. In addition to supporting an effort by colleagues to demand action on proposed legislation to create jobs, avoid sequestration and extend middle class tax cuts, Langevin pressed the Speaker to take the opportunity to give relief to underwater homeowners, noting that he is introducing legislation currently under consideration in the Senate to increase homeowners' options to refinance at lower interest rates.
"These citizens saw the values of their homes plummet through no fault of their own and are working hard to keep up with their mortgage payments during difficult economic times, yet many of them have not been able to refinance at lower interest rates because of their underwater status," writes Langevin. "Making refinancing more accessible to them could also give a natural boost to the economy, acting like a tax cut for the families who would save significantly on their mortgage payments."
Here is the full text of the letter:
September 20, 2012
The Honorable John A. Boehner
Speaker of the House of Representatives
H-232, U.S. Capitol Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Speaker Boehner,
I am writing to join my Democratic colleagues in urging that you keep the House in session so we may properly address the many vital issues requiring timely action.
As the Democratic Leadership has suggested, we have responsible ways to prevent sequestration while reducing the deficit, extend middle class tax cuts, and put Americans back to work through targeted investments in the middle class. Urgently, the current Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of the month, requiring our farm and food policies to revert back to those of 1949 and risking an estimated 16 million agricultural jobs if new legislation is not signed into law. Bipartisan five-year reauthorizations have already been approved by the Senate and the House Agricultural Committee and we are waiting to debate the House bill on the floor.
In addition to bringing up these measures, I want to add that this Congress cannot afford to miss an opportunity to reduce an unfair burden on millions of American homeowners. These citizens saw the values of their homes plummet through no fault of their own and are working hard to keep up with their mortgage payments during difficult economic times, yet many of them have not been able to refinance to lower interest rates because of their underwater status. Making refinancing more accessible to them could also give a natural boost to the economy, acting like a tax cut for the families who would save significantly on their mortgage payments.
I am introducing a companion to Senator Merkley's Rebuilding Equity Act to give the House a vehicle to swiftly take an important step toward helping these families. This bill, which would not add to the deficit, offers underwater families whose loans are guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac an opportunity to more quickly restore equity in their home by increasing refinancing options available to them. While I believe we can and should make these options available to all underwater homeowners, the Rebuilding Equity Act is an important step in the right direction.
With only one more day before the House is scheduled to recess according to the most recent legislative calendar, we simply cannot afford to take a seven week break with so much work left to do -- and after the Republican leadership just sent members home for the entire month of August. I ask you to pledge to keep the House in session to deal with these issues.
Member of Congress