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Public Statements

Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McDERMOTT. I assume, Mr. Speaker, that the majority is prepared to close, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think there's anybody on this floor who has any objection to what we've tried to do here for the Carpenters.

I think that the question really is: Why do we not have regular order in the House of Representatives? This bill was so hastily drafted that it, the original version, did not even cover Carpenters, had to be amended so that it covered them. Now, that comes because you don't have hearings. That comes because you don't have witnesses come in and tell people how this works.

We witnessed a rather sad event in Libya just the other day. I was a Foreign Service officer, and I felt very strongly the feeling of sadness and grief when Foreign Service officers died.

Suppose one of them had an outstanding student loan signed for by their parents while they went to Georgetown school of whatever?

The fact is that this bill--is that line of duty? No. So now we're taking one little narrow class and we're drawing one narrow little bill, when, in fact, there are a lot of people who, in the line of duty, get killed and debt forgiveness makes sense, as it does for the Carpenters and for the families who cosigned the loan.

When your son or daughter goes off to college and you sign a loan with them, you don't expect them to die. But you certainly aren't going to withhold your signature if that's the only way your son or daughter gets an opportunity to pay for college.

But this bill says that only one line of duty service-connected--and it doesn't define ``service-connected''--and it's only if you're in the military. There are a lot of other people who serve in this country, in public service--police officers, firemen, Foreign Service officers.

There are a lot of people who ought to have been considered when this bill was brought before us. It was not brought before the committee, just popped out here on the floor as a unanimous consent bill.

Now, this Congress has been the most do-nothing Congress in the history of the country--less hearings, less bills--but we have had 302 votes in this Congress to reduce regulations on the environment. We found time for every fifth vote in the last 2 years to have been to reduce regulations protecting the environment. We couldn't have hearings on something like this because we were busy doing things like that. We spent 33 times trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. We simply have not dealt with the problems that face this country.

There's another issue that ought to be before the committee. It's as important, perhaps, as this issue, perhaps affects more people. That's the debt forgiveness that comes by the money that banks reduce the principal on loans.

Now, if you have a loan for $300,000 and you have to refinance it, and you go and it's assessed, your house is now only worth 200,000, you're out of luck.

Your house is under water. Now, the bank can reduce the principal down to 200,000. They can grant you $100,000 forgiveness. But you know what happens to you when that happens? That 100,000 appears on your doorstep as income in the next taxing cycle.

That provision is in--we have an exemption for that presently, but it's expiring in January, and we simply have not even brought that issue up. There are thousands of people out there with foreclosures on their homes who are being socked or will be socked by debt forgiveness by banks. Those are the kinds of other issues that should have been dealt with.

Everyone's going to vote for this bill. I suspect that unless the Republicans want a vote on it for PR purposes, it'll go without a sound. None of us are going to ask for a vote, because it's obvious that this is one of those places where you want to make sure that a family who gives their son or their daughter does not get socked with a debt on top of it.

I urge my colleagues to vote for this, but urge the leadership on the other side to think about having hearings and reestablishing the regular order in the House so that we can answer some of the questions that are about this bill and think about many of the other issues that we have not dealt with.

We're within 2 days of the end of this Congress, and we've got thousands of issues. Everybody knows that November and December are going to be terrible because we're going to be right back here trying then to deal, on the back of a galloping horse, with a huge number of issues that have not been dealt with by the shortest Congress, the least hearings, the least bills passed.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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