Congressman Paul Kanjorski has been busy working on the economic issues crippling the nation and has issued the following statements:
WASHINGTON - Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA), the Chairman of the House Financial Services Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee, called on the Senate to take action on the bipartisan appraisal reform amendment filed by Senators Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and Mel Martinez (R-FL) to the Senate’s housing stimulus bill. Chairman Kanjorski has been the leading advocate in the House for appraisal reform for many years. Chairman Kanjorski’s statement follows:
“The bipartisan amendment put forward by Senators Casey and Martinez has advanced the issue of enhancing appraisal independence. Their amendment contains many of the appraisal improvement provisions found in my bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3837. The House Financial Services Committee approved these reforms last fall. Last November, the House then adopted them as an amendment to H.R. 3915, the broader mortgage lending reform bill. I have long worked diligently to build an awareness of and consensus on these matters.
“Because I first became aware of the need to improve appraisal independence as a result of problematic loans made in the Poconos in my Congressional District in Northeastern Pennsylvania several years ago, I am very pleased that my friend, Senator Casey, has taken the lead in addressing this policy issue in the Senate. Appraisal independence is of great importance to not only homebuyers and homeowners in Pennsylvania, but also to every American who owns or wants to own a home.
“Appraisal independence is critical to a fair mortgage system. Appraisers are the one party in a mortgage transaction who can verify the true value of the property for the buyer, the seller, the lender, and the investor, among others. We need to provide better protection against appraiser collusion, coercion, bribery, and extortion. We also need to impose strong penalties for those who violate reasonable standards. We additionally need to provide consumers with access to appraisals at or before closing a loan, so that they can make more informed choices. The House-passed proposal I drafted and the Casey-Martinez amendment accomplish these goals.
“Now is the time for the Senate to act on appraisal reform. We have recently read too many stories about problematic appraisals in connection with subprime loans. Congress has also already studied this issue for several years, starting with the May 2003 GAO report for former Senators Paul Sarbanes and Zell Miller and the June 2004 House Capital Markets Subcommittee field hearing at East Stroudsburg University. We have achieved bipartisan support on the need for appraisal reform. We also have a growing consensus on the appraisal independence standards passed by the House and the similar changes contained in the Casey-Martinez amendment in the Senate. The Senate should act on these matters, and I will continue my efforts to enact these ideas into law.”
Kanjorski to Address the Current Financial Crisis
and Related Policy Solutions
WASHINGTON – Tomorrow, Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11), the Chairman of the House Financial Services Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee, will participate in a panel symposium led by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) in honor of the 75th anniversary of the inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. FERI invited the Chairman to participate in a panel discussion focusing on the current financial crisis and on the policies needed to address it.
“I am honored that the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute invited me to speak at this symposium on such an urgent and important topic. The housing market faces many immediate problems, and homeowners throughout the country are in trouble,” said Chairman Kanjorski. “While the financial turmoil began with improper subprime mortgage lending practices, it has spread into other areas of the economy. There is no silver bullet solution, but I will continue to develop and to support effective legislative policies and to work toward innovative solutions aimed at shoring up the lagging housing industry and the troubled financial markets.”
Chairman Kanjorski will participate in a panel discussion entitled “Defending the Middle Class: The Glass-Steagall Act, The Mortgage Crisis, and Income Disparity” with Robert Kuttner, founder of The American Prospect; Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT); Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT); and Nell Minow, author and advocate on corporate social responsibility. This panel will address the current financial crisis and its implications for the diminishing middle class and the poor, whose struggle with rising income inequality has only been exacerbated by this crisis.
FERI is holding a day long symposium titled “Toward a new, New Deal: FDR’s Liberalism and the Future of American Democracy.” The event will bring together political leaders, historians, policy analysts, and journalists to discuss the lessons and legacy of the New Deal. By looking back at the successes of the New Deal, the symposium seeks to use history as a guide toward a new social contract for the 21st century.
Throughout his tenure as a member of the House Financial Services Committee and now as the leader of its Capital Markets Subcommittee, Chairman Kanjorski has acted to resolve many economic difficulties, from the Savings and Loan crisis in the late 1980s to the mortgage lending problems faced by his own district in the Poconos just several years ago.
Learning from these past experiences, Chairman Kanjorski has responded to the current crisis with specific legislative action in the 110th Congress. In November, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3915, the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act. Currently pending in the Senate, this bill includes Chairman Kanjorski’s Escrow, Appraisal, and Mortgage Servicing Improvements Act, which requires escrow accounts for many borrowers, improves appraisal independence, and enhances mortgage servicing. Many of the provisions in his legislation address problems first identified at a field hearing Congressman Kanjorski held at East Stroudsburg University in June, 2004. H.R. 3915 also includes broker licensing, education, and oversight reforms that Chairman Kanjorski first advocated putting in place nearly three years ago.
Chairman Kanjorski also recently introduced H.R. 5579, the Emergency Mortgage Loan Modification Act of 2008. This bill aims to clarify the responsibilities of, and provide a safe harbor from legal liability for, mortgage servicers who help troubled borrowers remain in their homes by engaging in loan modifications and workouts according to specific criteria. Chairman Kanjorski will hold a hearing on this bill on April 15.
Additionally, Chairman Kanjorski’s provision to temporarily increase the conforming loan limit for mortgages purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was included in the economic stimulus package that passed the House on February 7. Chairman Kanjorski’s leadership also contributed to the passage of legislation to improve the regulation of the government-sponsored enterprises, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and also of the Federal Home Loan Banks. Action on this bill is now pending before the Senate Banking Committee.
Chairman Kanjorski has taken a leadership role to help ensure the continued availability of affordable, federally guaranteed student loans, as capital access problems continue in the student loan marketplace. Today, Chairman Kanjorski introduced legislation to help provide students with loan options using the Federal Home Loan Banks as a source of liquidity.
Chairman Kanjorski also initiated an examination of the bond insurance industry to determine the implications of ratings downgrades for the financial marketplace and municipalities, and the potential need for regulatory reforms. Chairman Kanjorski convened hearings to shed light on the industry and to help prevent the effects of ratings downgrades from adversely affecting local governments.
FERI organized the symposium with its partner, the Roosevelt Institution (RI). FERI aims to inform new generations of the ideals and achievements of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and to inspire the application of their spirit of optimism and innovation to the solution of current problems. RI is a non-profit, non-partisan national network of campus-based student think tanks.