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SERVICEMEMBERS' PROTECTION ACT
Mr. BROWN of Ohio. Mr. President, I rise today because servicemembers who risk their lives protecting our Nation should not have to ever worry about predatory banking practices. They should not have to worry about whether they can vote absentee while serving abroad. While they are fighting our Nation's foes, they should not have to worry about fighting a foreclosure. When they are serving our country, they should not have to worry if their civilian job, if they are Guard or Reserve, will be available when they return.
Unfortunately, too many do worry about that. Last week I joined the Attorney General of the United States at Wright Patterson Air Force base near Dayton, OH, and spoke with men and women who serve our country, air men and air women. Also around that time I spoke to some Guard and Reserve, members of the Guard and Reserve who serve our country, about some of these fraudulent practices. When they are overseas, some of them do not know when they return if they are going to still have their job. They don't know what happens to them when they go back to school if they are enrolled in a university, private or public, 2-year or 4-year. They don't know what happens sometimes with their families in foreclosure or facing financial fraud.
We know that employment is critical for servicemembers and military families. So is housing. So is protecting their ability to cast a ballot. That is why I am sponsoring legislation, the Servicemembers' Protection Act, which is so vital to those men and women in uniform. It would make critical changes to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act that could improve the quality of life for members of the Armed Forces.
My bill first would strengthen housing and lending rights for servicemembers. Right now, a bank cannot foreclose upon servicemembers while they are serving overseas until it gets a court order. Yet the bank has no real obligation to actually investigate whether a homeowner is on active duty overseas. My bill would require lenders who want to foreclose on a home to conduct a meaningful investigation into a borrower's military status. It would increase civil penalties for violating a servicemember's rights as a homeowner.
The bill also would strengthen enforcement for the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, to make sure servicemembers' votes are counted. It would create a nationwide standard for getting absentee ballots to overseas servicemembers in a timely fashion.
Finally, it would make sure servicemembers can return to their jobs after they have completed their military service with the seniority and pay rate they would have earned if they remained continuously employed by the civilian employer.
We know the Guard and Reserve who are called up leave their civilian jobs and too often come home to the uncertainty of, What happens when I arrive home? Members of the Guard should not have to worry about whether they will return home to the same job and the correct pay rate.
As citizens of a grateful Nation, we have a responsibility to do something--more than something to protect servicemembers' rights as they sacrifice to keep our country safe. That is why I urge my colleagues to stand up for our servicemembers. It is time we serve those who served us.
Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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