As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing, Insurance and Community Opportunity in the 112th Congress, I have worked to shine a spotlight on blatant mortgage servicing abuses and to ensure that any settlement reached between Attorneys General and mortgage servicers brings justice to consumers who were needlessly pushed into foreclosures. I have also sought to address mortgage origination abuses and sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder commending him on the settlement with Countrywide Financial Corporation and urging him to make certain that the settlement is well implemented. As millions of Americans struggle to stay current on mortgage payments and avoid foreclosure, I have spearheaded efforts to make sure housing counseling is adequately funded so that homeowners have access to loan modifications.
In the 111th Congress, as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, I worked closely with Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank to pass the "Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009" (H.R. 4173), a historic bill that will provide for a stronger and more transparent financial system with increased protections for consumers and investors. Among the initiatives I offered that were included in the House version of the bill were:
- The creation of a Systemic Dissolution Fund that will prevent future taxpayer funded bailouts of so-called "Too Big to Fail" banks and businesses;
- The establishment of a fair Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) assessment system that will ensure that larger and riskier depository institutions pay more into the FDIC's DIF;
- A requirement that systemically risky firms prepare "living wills" which would facilitate their rapid and orderly resolution;
- A measure that provides up to $10 million a year for financial education and counseling to families at financial risk, and
- A provision to make remittances more transparent.
As a conferee on Wall Street reform legislation, I authored the ex-ante fund proposal. FDIC Chair Sheila Bair wrote the following letter of support for my ex-ante provision.
The passage of the Credit Cardholder's Bill of Rightswas another victory for consumers and a critical step in rebuilding the economy. In the bill, Congress enacted reforms to ban unfair rate increases and abusive fees and to strengthen enforcement of the credit card industry. Provisions already in effect require credit card companies to provide written notice of rate increases, inform customers of their right to cancel their card before increases go into effect, and send statements 21 days before payment is due. Because the credit card companies responded by hiking rates before some portions of the law went into effect, my colleagues and I acted on November 4, 2009 to speed up implementation of these important consumer protection reforms by passing the Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act.
During my tenure in the House, I have spearheaded efforts to bring more minorities into the banking system. I was proud to play a prominent role in cracking down on predatory lenders, including flagrant abuses in payday lending to the military. An amendment I offered in the Financial Services Committee to cap the interest on payday loans made to military families and provide them with other basic protections against abusive lenders, was signed into law in 2006.