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Providing for Consideration of Senate Amendment to H.R. 3221, Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


I thank the gentleman for yielding and, Madam Speaker, I rise to speak in opposition to the rule.

I was very disappointed that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle couldn't resist the temptation to shut out all the Republican amendments during the debate on the rule. Like Chairman Frank did in the committee, calling up Republican amendments, they could have allowed at least one Republican amendment to be offered to this bill.

Speaker Pelosi has said that the Democrats are advancing a New Direction for America. However, I would argue that denying House Republicans from offering any amendments to this bill is the wrong direction.

Our voices have been silenced. It's a sad day when people who represent about half the population of the United States don't have the opportunity to bring solutions to the table during debate on this important issue. I hope that this wasn't a calculated maneuver for political gain.

Congress is yet to send a single bill to the President that might begin to address the turbulence in the housing market, and I know that this is important. Ranking Member Bachus and I had planned to offer an amendment that contains cost-effective reforms that can start helping homeowners and the economy now.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, our substitute amendment would decrease the deficit by $25 million over 10 years. Instead of outbidding each other on how much taxpayer funding should be spent on bailouts, House and Senate leaders should have chosen to move the good, commonsense, bipartisan ideas that are right in front of them in our amendment, and many have been passed before.

The amendment represents the very best elements of housing reforms that Congress has been debating over the last several years and none of the bad ones. It includes FHA reform which alone could help an additional 250,000 homeowners refinance through the FHA Secure program.

Our amendment would strengthen the national oversight of the GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as reform these entities.

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These reforms would infuse much needed liquidity into the flailing housing market.

It would add funding for housing counseling; enhance appraisal standards; require mortgage originator registration; provide resources to crack down on mortgage fraud; enhance disclosure; and provide liability protection for lenders that help struggling homeowners to refinance and eventually repay their loans.

It also provides returning veterans with foreclosure protection and temporarily raises loan limits on mortgages backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Notably absent from our amendment is a high price tag. That's because it doesn't reward speculators, fraudsters, or those who engaged in inappropriate or recklessly irresponsible behavior. Several components of our amendment, including FHA and GSE reform, already have passed in one or both Chambers.

I understand that some--but not all--of our good provisions will be included in the Frank amendment. We need to break the logjam on these commonsense reforms. Counselors can help prevent foreclosures by guiding homeowners into a loan that best meets their budget and needs. And FHA and GSE reform will add much-needed liquidity to the market while providing more consumers with an alternative to bad, subprime loans.

Most importantly for Chicago and other urban communities, our amendment addresses mortgage and appraisal fraud, which has skyrocketed in Chicago and devastated communities.

I wish my colleagues could have had the opportunity to vote on our Republican commonsense, cost-effective substitute amendment. This could have been the bipartisan alternative to the bill we will vote on today, which is littered with controversial provisions.

However, my colleagues from the other side of the aisle chose to shut out our clean alternative and shut out the voices of millions of Americans who want a cost-effective solution to jump-start the housing market and get our economy back on track.

Again, I urge my colleagues to vote against the rule.


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