The House has just passed the most comprehensive response yet to the American mortgage crisis by a vote of 272-152. The American Housing Rescue & Foreclosure Prevention Act, H.R. 3221, will help families facing foreclosure keep their homes, help other families avoid foreclosures in the future, and help the recovery of communities harmed by empty homes caught in the foreclosure process. To shore up the housing market and ensure the availability of affordable home loans, the bill would put a tough, independent new regulator in charge of the housing Government Sponsored Enterprises, or GSEs (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks), which are vital to both the financial markets and American homeowners. The new regulator will be far better prepared to quickly and effectively respond to issues affecting the safe and sound operation of these enterprises. The centerpiece of the bill will help significant numbers of hard-working American families in danger of losing their home refinance into lower-cost government -insured mortgages they can afford to repay — at no cost to the American taxpayer. President Bush rescinded his veto threat on the legislation this morning.
Speaker Pelosi: “The bill the House takes up today, if enacted, will represent the most far-reaching reform of our nation's federal housing finance system in a generation. Chairman Frank had the foresight to build a bipartisan consensus around a bill that addresses the difficult challenges in our housing markets and in communities across America. To help American families avoid foreclosure and jumpstart the housing market the legislation, first, steers middle-class families away from predatory subprime loans and provides them with affordable mortgages; shields middle-class borrowers from predatory lending practices and provides foreclosure avoidance counseling opportunities; protects taxpayers, not speculators, by requiring lenders and homeowners to take responsibility; and offers tax breaks to first-time home buyers.”
Rep. Barney Frank: “No solution to a problem should be more elegant than the problem. We’re in this problem because of excessive deregulation that led to the subprime exposure. And the gentleman from Alabama and I and other members of the committee, my colleague from North Carolina tried several years to prevent it. We were overruled by higher political authority at the time when the Republicans controlled Congress. We are suffering from the results of subprime. As to Fannie and Freddie, yes, that’s a hybrid form that none of us here created that we should look at and we should look at. But to deny emergency response would be inviting disaster.”
Rep. Maxine Waters: “I want to thank a number of people, the members of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity and the bipartisan members who voted for many aspects of this bill when that legislation came before our committee. I want to thank the Black Caucus for standing strong and insist that we have money to help those communities that were targeted by the lenders for this subprime mess that they put us in.”