Congress focuses on lending, housing

Posted May 08, 2009, at 8:47 p.m.

House votes

Democratic Reps. Michael Michaud and Chellie Pingree

Vote 1: Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act: The House approved the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (S 386), sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to authorize the prosecution of cases of financial fraud and the recovery of funds lost in such fraud. Supporters said “it should help protect our economic recovery efforts from the scourge of fraud” by strengthening action against the “frauds that have so severely undermined our economy and hurt so many hardworking people in this country.” The vote, on May 6, was 367 yeas to 59 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 2: Employers with election fraud convicts: The House passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act (HR 1728) that would prohibit organizations from receiving funds for legal assistance or housing counseling if they have employees who were convicted for violating election laws. Proponents said the amendment would be based on conviction not indictment. Opponents said the amendment “strips down language in the [Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act] designed to keep tax dollars from falling into the hands of organizations indicted for voter fraud or its related crimes.” The vote, on May 7, was 245 yeas to 176 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 3: Truth in Lending Act reformed: The House has passed the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act (HR 1728), sponsored by Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., to reform the Truth in Lending Act to add minimum standards for consumer mortgage loans and to increase accountability in the lending process. Proponents of the legislation said that it would restore a fiscal balance not present in the past because “credit was made too readily available to too many people who could not afford to pay it back.” They noted that problems in the economy could have been avoided if the legislation had been passed years ago. Opponents said the bill, although well-intended, had a number of flaws and ambiguous language that could end up punishing small banks and people applying for loans. The vote, on May 7, was 300 yeas to 114 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Senate votes

Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins

Vote 1: No relief from repaid funds: The Senate rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., to the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act (S 896) that would have required the treasury secretary to use funds repaid by recipients of aid under the Troubled Assets Relief Program to cut the program’s total level of funding. Supporters said Congress had a constitutional requirement to control government spending and the treasury should not be able to use the program as “a discretionary slush fund.” Opponents said the continuing weakness of financial institutions meant the program funds may be needed again and the treasury should “utilize these resources coming back at this critical moment” as a safeguard against that possibility. The vote, on May 5, was 47 yeas to 48 nays.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Vote 2: Protecting tenants living on foreclosed properties: The Senate approved an amendment sponsored by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act (S 896) to protect tenants from being removed from a foreclosed property that someone else owns. Supporters said the amendment would protect renters from being forced to leave their homes by keeping their rental leases in effect for the duration that they signed onto with a landlord facing foreclosure. Opponents said “it will cause all kinds of problems” by changing a law that was already working. The vote, on May 6, was 57 yeas to 39 nays.

YEAS: Snowe

NAYS: Collins

Vote 3: Helping Families Save Their Homes Act: The Senate approved the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act (S 896), sponsored by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., to prevent foreclosure on mortgages and increase the availability of credit. Supporters said that offering such relief could help stabilize the residential real estate market and address “a major source of economic hardship to reduce and mitigate the foreclosure problem.” The vote, on May 6, was 91 yeas to 5 nays.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Compiled for the Bangor Daily News by Targeted News Service.

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