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Mike on Housing and Financial Services
The lack of affordable housing is a chronic problem in the Greater Boston area. This is the case whether someone is a buyer or a renter. I have been fighting to ease this burden during my time in Congress.
As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance for the 113th Congress, I am focused on preserving existing affordable housing in our neighborhoods and fully funding our current housing programs, such as Section 8 and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). I am also committed to ensuring that homeownership is accessible and affordable.
Agencies that provide homeownership opportunities, such as Fannie Mae and the Federal Housing Administration, must be strengthened and improved. However, it is absolutely imperative that as we reform these programs, we preserve affordable access to 30-year fixed-rate loans. This will help preserve our middle-class. The Subcommittee also has jurisdiction over terrorism risk insurance, flood insurance, and several programs under the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).
On a local level, I have fought for years to ensure that multi-family homes, such as those commonly found in the 7th district, are treated the same as more traditional single family homes. For example, I worked to expand the number of qualified Massachusetts citizens eligible for federally-backed home loans by increasing loan limits for single-family dwellings and for 2, 3, and 4 family homes. I have worked to ensure that Massachusetts' high cost of housing is taken into account when determining qualifications for assistance and mortgage loans.
When Congress passed the Helping Families Save their Homes Act of 2009, I worked hard to include a tenant protection provision which requires a 90-day notice before tenants have to leave a foreclosed home.
During my years serving on the Financial Services Committee, I have worked on a whole host of issues. In 2009, Congress enacted the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act to address excessive abuses in the credit card industry. The law, which I strongly supported, makes it harder for companies to increase rates retroactively and without notice.
I am proud of our Committee’s work responding to the financial crisis and passing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act in 2010. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression required a sweeping response, and this historic measure was a significant step in reining in big financial firms. It created new, robust financial regulations, increased investor protections and established the first consumer financial protection agency.
The financial reform bill also increases transparency so we are better equipped to see and respond to financial problems before they get out of control. Two important provisions of mine which were included in the package were increasing the liability and accountability of credit rating agencies and requiring the registration of hedge funds with federal regulators. Since passing financial reform, I have worked diligently with the Committee to ensure that the law is implemented effectively and not weakened along the way.
In the 112th Congress, I served as Ranking Members of the Oversight & Investigation Subcommittee. The Subcommittee oversaw the setup of several new agencies created under the Wall Street Reform Act, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and reviewed several existing federal programs. The Subcommittee also investigated the failure of MF Global, which led to a report and Democratic response laying out specific regulatory recommendations for the future.
Within only a few years of its creation, I was happy to report that the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was making money for taxpayers. As of February 2014, over $418 billion have been recovered, including repayments from banks and dividends and interest made from the program.
In 2007, I was the chief sponsor of a bill enacted to extend needed terrorism insurance to businesses, especially those in major urban areas. The Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act makes terrorism insurance available and affordable in the wake of 9/11. In 2013, as Ranking Member of the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee, I introduced legislation to extend TRIA for another ten years. I am hopeful that Congress will act before the current program expires at the end of 2014.
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