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Section 515 Rural Housing Property Transfer Improvement Act of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

SECTION 515 RURAL HOUSING PROPERTY TRANSFER IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - January 23, 2008)


Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the leadership that my colleague and neighbor from New Hampshire has shown on this bill, and I appreciate, also, the work on the other side.

Let me begin with a very important point: People in this country, I think, and our friends in the media misunderstand the true and legitimate meaning of partisanship. Partisanship has a very essential role to play in democracy. The Founding Fathers simultaneously launched this Nation, denounced parties, and formed them, because it does seem inevitable when large numbers of people are going to govern themselves that some forms of organization come forward.

Partisanship is not only not a bad thing, it's a necessary thing in a self-governing polity. Partisanship becomes a problem if the legitimate differences that define the parties spill over angrily and make it impossible to work on issues where those differences should not exist.

I think the Committee on Financial Services, under my predecessor as chairman, Mr. Oxley of Ohio, and I hope under my own chairmanship, have shown that that is not necessary to be the case, that it is possible from time to time to have legitimate strong differences on an ideological or partisan basis without that in any way interfering with our ability to come together on areas where we should agree. This bill, obviously, today is an example of the latter.

We have a bill that has been brought forward in a totally bipartisan manner to improve the efficiency with which assistance goes for rural housing. That's the second point I wanted to make. Much of what we do is, in fact, to improve the efficiency with which programs work, and the committee has had a chance to bring several bills to the floor that do that. We will be doing more.

The gentleman from New Hampshire mentioned one of the conflicts we are trying to resolve here is between the rules that apply when you were trying to use tax credits for low-income housing and those that apply when you were talking about the programmatic legislation. We do something about that here.

Under the leadership of the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Rangel), and the Financial Services Committee, we are working out legislation that will do that kind of reconciliation for all housing programs. And we will shortly have on the floor of this House a bill that will greatly increase the efficiency with which all housing programs can be merged, tax-based ones and appropriations-based ones, increasing the amount of housing we can build at no further increase to the taxpayer.

And the third point I would note is that this is rural housing. Too often when people think about Federal housing programs they think only about the urban areas. Urban areas are important, but so are rural areas. And I am very proud that this committee has given equal attention, or let me say appropriate attention, to both. Obviously, the need is often greater in the more heavily populated areas, but we have given fully proportionate attention to the rural areas.

So, I am very proud we have a bill today that shows how you can be bipartisan, even while there are legitimate partisan differences, that aims at increasing the efficiency with which Federal funds are spent and which recognizes that people in the rural areas have a need for housing assistance, to some extent, just as do people in the urban areas.

I thank the gentleman from New Hampshire for the leadership he has shown. I appreciate the gentlewoman from West Virginia, who has become the ranking member of the Housing Subcommittee and with whom we have very good relationships. And I hope the bill is passed.

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