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Public Statements

Neighborhood Stabilization Act of 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


I thank the gentlelady for yielding and for the time.

One of the underlying issues as it relates to this bill is I think the way in which it was contemplated. I'm not making a process argument, but what I am making is an argument that suggests there's a very serious oversight.

And the oversight was the committee's rejection of the McHenry amendment. The McHenry amendment basically said, look, if you're going to have these grants and loans and there's going to be properties that are going to be purchased, there should be an open process, there should be a bidding process, and it should be something that everybody has access to. And I think the failure of the majority in this case was to dismiss that and put it aside.

I've heard cities tonight described as victims. The chairman a minute ago said he has great confidence, and I'm paraphrasing, but great confidence that cities are going to use the money judiciously and wisely. Well, my congressional district falls in the shadow of a city with a different reputation that doesn't have a judicious and wise reputation always. Let me read you just a couple of headlines within the past couple of weeks about some of the schemes that have happened from a corruption point of view about the very people that you're contemplating entrusting $15 billion to.

Here's one this month: ``Witness Details Pay-To-Play Schemes'' or ``Ex-Illinois Official Pleads Guilty to Lying'' or ``Corruption Firmly Entrenched in State'' or ``Illinois: Corruption on Parade'' or ``Top Aide to Illinois Governor Is Indicted in Kickback Inquiry.''

We have got deep troubles in northern Illinois, and what is conspicuously absent in this bill, and I've read it, I've looked at it all, within this bill there is no requirement of any kind of disclosure, no requirement of any kind of notice, no requirement of anything whatsoever. So, in other words, if you're a corrupt official working for an agency that has been entrusted with this $15 billion, there's absolutely nothing, nothing that prohibits you from selling this to a friend for whatever you want to sell it for. The bill is absolutely silent.

Now, is the majority trying to be complicit in a nefarious scheme? Of course not. But was it a gross oversight on the part of the majority in the committee to reject the McHenry amendment? I think so, and I think for that fundamental flaw alone, notwithstanding all the underlying policy questions, that fundamental flaw alone brings a great deal of skepticism to voters in my congressional district. And for that reason, I urge a ``no'' vote.


I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

And in response to the chairman's question, yeah, no question about it. There's a plan requirement on page 3, section 4 of the bill, but the plan requirement doesn't prohibit the type of conduct that I just described, a plan as it relates to goals for the sale to different groups, accessibility to different groups, but the plan is silent as it relates to this potentially corrupt practice.

I think it's a flaw and I don't think it's a flaw that can't be redeemed. It can be very easily corrected. It doesn't help the underlying policy objections to the bill.

But $15 billion put out there without any requirement whatsoever as it relates to a prohibition against self-dealing, a member of the housing development authority of a particular municipality calling up a cousin and saying, hey, come on by here, we just purchased this foreclosed property for $100,000, I'll sell it to you for $75,000, there's nothing in here. Notwithstanding the plan language, notwithstanding any other declaration of the majority, it is silent, and we can do much, much better.


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