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Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. WATERS. Mr. Chairman, my amendment to H.R. 5326 would fully fund the Department of Justice's financial and mortgage fraud enforcement activities as well as the new Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group.

In announcing this initiative during the State of the Union, President Obama said that the new unit will ``hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.'' President Obama recognized that additional resources were needed to prosecute crimes against homeowners and mortgage investors.

Since the start of the financial crisis of 2008, there have been 3.5 million foreclosures. While it's clear that there was extensive fraud in the origination and securitization of mortgage loans, these cases were complicated and time consuming. Without a coordinated task force with significant resources, the greatest crime in the history of our housing market will go unpunished. However, so far, the RMBS Working Group is off to a slow start.

The RMBS Working Group cochair, New York Attorney General Schneidermann, all but affirmed my concerns when he essentially admitted to the Congressional Progressive Caucus during a special public forum that the RMBS Working Group does not yet have the resources it needs to establish a robust infrastructure commensurate with the charge of investigating the 2008 financial crisis.

To fund this effort, the President requested a $55 million increase in the budget for the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to help facilitate an increase in staffing for the RMBS Working Group. However, as noted in the Minority Views, H.R. 5326 only provides a small portion of the increase that's needed. So I have worked to find additional funds from within the NASA appropriations that I don't anticipate will endanger any program. Considering the retirement of the space shuttle program and a shift in NASA's priorities, I believe we should use the funds in these accounts to help bring justice to defrauded investors, homeowners, and consumers.

My amendment pulls from NASA Aeronautics' budget of $569.9 million in appropriations--a fair target since NASA only requested $551.5 million. I am making up the other portion of the funds needed to neutralize the impact on budgetary outlays by pulling $38 million from NASA's Space Operations' $3.9 billion in appropriations.

In subtracting from these accounts, my amendment would increase the FBI's budgets by $9 million, increase DOJ's legal activities appropriation by $13.5 million, and increase the appropriations for U.S. Attorneys by $21.5 million, all in efforts to fully comply with the Obama administration's $55 million request.

The FBI needs the funding to increase its capacity to investigate financial and mortgage fraud schemes. The requested 40 new agents and four forensic accountants will create two hybrid squads to target the most significant, complex financial crimes, and remaining resources will be allocated to FBI field offices to increase financial and mortgage fraud efforts.

The criminal division within DOJ needs additional resources to prosecute the most significant financial crimes--including mortgage fraud, corporate fraud, and sophisticated investment fraud--coordinate multi-district financial crime cases, and assist U.S. Attorneys offices in financial crime cases with significant money-laundering and asset-forfeiture components.

The civil division within DOJ needs funding to expand civil enforcement efforts to continue to obtain recoveries from individuals and companies who have defrauded the government by violating the terms of Federal contracts, grants, loans, and subsidies.

The Civil Rights Division within DOJ needs funding to expand civil enforcement efforts, including investigations of predatory lending, pricing discrimination, matters involving allegations of potentially fraudulent behavior.

And lastly, the U.S. Attorneys need additional resources to expand criminal investigations and prosecutions of mortgage fraud.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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