Pelosi: 'Housing Bill Most Far-Reaching Reform of Our Nation's Federal Housing System in a Generation'

July 23, 2008
Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in support of the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008.  The legislation passed by a vote of 272 to 152.  Below are her remarks:

“Mr. Rangel, Mr. Frank, Mr. Neal, and Chairwoman Waters have brought us a comprehensive package on housing policy reforms that will help lift families facing foreclosure and stem the continuing drop in home values around the country.

“I also wish to acknowledge the contributions of Treasury Secretary Paulson.  Secretary Paulson played a constructive role and helped the President reached this agreement after opposing many parts of this legislation.  I'm so pleased that the White House issued the statement this morning that the President would not veto this bill.

“Under Chairman Barney Frank's leadership, the House last year, just three months after Democrats took the majority, passed a bill very similar to the one the House is voting on today and the Administration said it will not oppose.  Mr. Frank and members of the committee foresaw that there was a need for legislation.

“Again in May of this year, the House passed virtually an identical GSE reform bill as part of a broader comprehensive package to address the crisis in our housing market.  Also in January, in discussion over the economic stimulus package, we proposed inclusion of both the GSE reform bill and the FHA reform bill that are now in this package.  Unfortunately, we could not get agreement on that.

“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.

“In this bill, we are also ensuring that the legislation increases the stock of affordable housing by preserving affordable rental housing for seniors and other populations in communities across America, provides tax incentives for the production of rental housing for low-income populations.

“On the subject of our veterans, this legislation is also helping returning veterans achieve the dream of home ownership by increasing the VA Home Loan limit for veterans in high cost areas - I'm so proud of that.  Extending the length of time veterans are protected from foreclosure--upon on their return from service--from three months to one year.

“The bill does many, many other things too numerous to mention here but suffice it to say that we are addressing a crisis of historic proportions and the bill protects the futures of our families and their housing.

“Having just returned from the Gulf Coast region, I would also like to note the significant contributions to this bill of two of our newest Members in the House, both of whom hail from the Gulf area:  Don Cazayoux from Louisiana and Travis Childers from Mississippi.

“Congressman Cazayoux and Congressman Childers sponsored legislation cutting red tape at HUD so that public housing facilities can receive swift assistance from FEMA after a natural disaster.  Their legislation also authorizes funds to combat violent crime on or near the premises of public or federally assisted housing facilities.  Their achievement is a testament to their diligence and dedication in representing their districts.

“Owning a home is an essential part of the American Dream.  It's not only about what it means to individuals, it is what it means to the community, putting down roots.  It is what it means to the economy as we take an interest in our homes and make them habitable.

“By expanding homeownership opportunities and protecting families against foreclosure, we are helping keep the American dream of owning a home alive.

“By restoring confidence in the housing market, our economy can begin to grow and create jobs for the American people again.”