Washington, DC (June 14, 2013)--Today, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act with an amendment introduced by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the top Democrat on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, that significantly expands home foreclosure protections for servicemembers, veterans with disabilities, and their families under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
"Under current law, some servicemembers and their families are not receiving the critical protection they need, and banks are foreclosing on their homes at the very moment when our heroes most deserve our support," said Cummings. "This bipartisan and widely-supported measure will ensure that our troops fighting overseas do not also have to fight here at home to keep a roof over the heads of their loved ones."
The amendment was co-sponsored by Reps. Mike Michaud, Ranking Member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Mark Takano, Ranking Member of the Economic Opportunity Subcommittee, John Tierney, Ranking Member of the National Security Subcommittee, Bruce Braley, and David Cicilline.
The amendment, which was introduced last month as H.R. 1842, Military Family Home Protection Act of 2013, would:
-Stay home foreclosure actions when servicemembers are receiving hostile fire or imminent danger pay;
-Stay home foreclosure actions for a 12-month period for servicemembers on leave due to illnesses or injuries, for veterans who are medically discharged, and for surviving spouses of servicemembers whose deaths are service-connected;
-Double civil penalties for mortgage-related violations;
-Prohibit banks from discriminating against servicemembers, veterans, and surviving spouses who are eligible for these protections; and
-Require lenders to designate compliance officers to ensure that they protect the legal rights of servicemembers.
The legislation is supported by the American Legion, Military Officers Association of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Gold Star Wives of America, and Disabled American Veterans.
The legislation was the culmination of a two-year investigation by Cummings into illegal foreclosures against servicemembers, including multiple document requests to mortgage banks, federal regulators, and servicemembers, a congressional forum co-hosted with Senator Jay Rockefeller, and a bicameral staff report, 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.
Last year, the House passed by an overwhelming vote of 394 to 27 a similar amendment introduced by Cummings, Rep. Bob Filner, Ranking Member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, and Rep. Adam Smith, Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, among others.