This past week featured two significant legislative accomplishments.
First, Representative Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota, and I brought some significant national attention to the credit reporting bill we introduced last week. We co-authored an op-ed on the bill in the Wall Street Journal which you can read here. I apologize that it requires a subscription and that for copyright reasons I cannot provide the text.
The substance of the bill is actually quite simple. It would allow utility and telecom companies to report on-time payments from customers to the three credit rating agencies. Right now, utility companies are only allowed to report when people are late with their payments. The way I see it, if a utility company can ding your credit, shouldn't they also have the ability to help you rebuild it?
This additional reporting can help those without access to other forms of credit -- so-called "credit invisibles" -- build their scores. It can also help those who may have made a mistake or two in the past recover from the damage done. The "Policy Economic Research Council" has some good research on the subject you can read here.
Also this week, a bill to help combat homelessness in the veteran community introduced by Representative Joe Heck from Nevada and I passed in the House of Representatives. Our legislation ensures that the benefits our most severely wounded veterans receive cannot be used in the formula that calculates whether they are eligible for public housing.
Why is that important? Right now, the cost of health care these severely injured veterans receive is counted as income, which can sometimes rise to an amount that it disqualifies them from being able to access public housing. With no other options, that means some of these veterans are left out on the street.
It makes no sense that a form of disability payment, meant to care for severely disabled veterans who have served honorably, should disqualify them from receiving housing assistance. These are exactly the individuals we should be helping. While there is certainly much that needs to be reformed and improved in our public housing programs, this is a chance to fix one, important oversight.
I look forward to updating you on the status of both of these bills in the future.