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Moment of Silence in Rememberance of Members of Armed Forces and Their Families

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HIMES. Madam Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Connecticut is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. HIMES. Madam Chair, I rise in support of the Holt amendment.

I was moved to come to the floor because I was stunned that in their deregulatory zeal, in their ideologically driven desire to shrink the size of government, the Republican majority would choose to leave the American consumer unprotected.

I represent a lot of American consumers and I know that they don't really understand derivatives. I know that they don't really understand the concept of systemic risk, of credit-default swaps, many of the difficult things that we sought to regulate in Dodd-Frank. But they sure do understand what it means to open up that credit card bill at the end of the month and see hundreds of dollars of charges that they didn't anticipate.

Millions of Americans now understand what it is to have a mortgage blow up on them, a mortgage that if we were all honest with each other we would recognize none of us really understands our own mortgages. Millions of Americans now know what it is to see interest rates hop up on a mortgage and to lose their homes. Of all the things that the Republican majority could choose to gut, that they would choose to leave the American consumer to be prey to predatory practices is unconscionable.

Madam Chair, we don't allow toasters that will burn your house down. We don't allow cars that will blow up. But evidently the Republican majority would allow mortgages that would blow up your house or other financial products that would bring an American family to its knees.

I've heard the counterarguments. I heard the gentleman from Georgia stand down there and say that this is an expansion of government spending. What the gentleman from Georgia didn't say is that probably the most politically unpopular bit of spending we've seen in the last several years was hundreds of billions of dollars requested by a Republican President and a Republican Secretary of the Treasury to bail out the financial industry. I'll say it again. Republicans requested the bailout. That was a terribly expensive thing to do. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will help prevent that in the future. It's a good investment.

I've heard arguments about czars. I must say, I've talked to tens of thousands of my constituents and nobody is saying that czars are a problem in the United States of America today. I'm hearing a slightly better argument, but one that I don't accept as a former banker, that we are separating consumer protection from safety and soundness. As a former banker, I will say that those are not separate concepts, that when you have bank customers defaulting on their mortgages, when you have bank customers running up credit card debt and being subject to fees that they can't possibly repay, you stick a knife into the safety and soundness of that bank or whatever institution that we are talking about.

Mr. GARRETT. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. HIMES. I will yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.

Mr. GARRETT. So you see the importance of having both of those issues and how there's not a hard dividing line between the two is what you're saying?

Mr. HIMES. That is correct.

Mr. GARRETT. Under the current statute, Dodd-Frank, is the CFPB charged with looking at something other than consumer protection? Are they charged with looking at safety and soundness?

Mr. HIMES. Reclaiming my time, this country has long had a history of the examination of the safety and soundness of our banks. And what we are saying now is that we will assist and support the safety and soundness of our banks by keeping the customers of those banks from defaulting through good consumer protection.

So I support the Holt amendment and think this is terribly, terribly important to American families and the safety and soundness of the system.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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