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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE REFORM ACT OF 2005

August 6, 2009
Floor Statement
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank) for yielding me the time and for the job he has done to shape this legislation.

I would like to thank the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Oxley) for the tremendous cooperation and the leadership that has been shown that helped to get bipartisan support for this legislation. When it left our committee, it was a good bill. It was a bill that even some people who had not wanted to support it went along with, because in the final analysis, it was going to bring about reform of the GSEs.

Now, some of us know that there is a need for reform with the GSEs. We are concerned. We do not want them carrying debt that is not shown, that we do not understand, because we do not want these humongous general services enterprises to somehow get in trouble and we have to bail them out the way we did with the S&Ls.

So despite the fact that we think there was an effort by some on the opposite side of the aisle to basically deal with the some of the arguments of the banks and savings and loans about the GSEs being too big, getting too retail, basically taking over their markets, we support reform; and we voted for the bill because we support reform.

Because of the vision of the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank), we were able to do something for working people and for poor people by creating this very, very special arrangement that could be used for the production and preservation of low-income affordable housing, this kind of set aside.

It would be the after-tax profit from these GSEs that will be used to produce low-income housing. And so despite the fact that for years there has been kind of a confrontation between the GSEs and the banks and S&Ls about market share and all of that, we thought it made good sense to make sure that the GSEs were not too big, carrying too much debt. So this reform is good.

But what is absolutely mind-boggling about what has happened, from the time the bill left committee until the time it has reached the floor today, is this politicizing of the fund by some of those on the opposite side of the aisle who never supported this fund for low- and moderate-income housing to begin with.

What did they do? After the bill left committee, they decided that they were going to try to put some unconstitutional boundaries on nonprofits, and I guess profit-making organizations alike, that would not allow them to participate in the production of low- and moderate-income housing no matter what the need, no matter what the crisis, if, in fact, they exercised their constitutional rights to assist people and lead people in doing voter registration.

That is so unbelievable because, number one, it is unconstitutional. It is absolutely unconstitutional. This government has shown that it indeed supports reaching out to the citizens of this country to encourage them to be involved in voting and participating in this democracy. We have the Motor Voter Act, which says motor vehicle departments all over the country, when people register their vehicles, encourage them to vote; give them voter regulation slips; do whatever you can to get them involved in the political process. We are on record with doing that.

And now to have those Members from the opposite side of the aisle say that you cannot produce low-income housing if you exercise your constitutional right by helping people to get registered to vote is absolutely mind-boggling. And let me tell you what is even more mind-boggling about this. We know that we have gone through some terrible, terrible times recently here in this country, down in Florida, where there were databases that were developed of people supposedly who had been incarcerated and committed felonies that were supposedly not allowed to vote. But it turned out to be fraudulent databases.

We have had attempts to stop people and discourage them from voting by having uniformed officers question them when they come into the polling place. I would think that they would not want to continue with that kind of reputation.

I will not vote for this bill no matter how much it is needed, as long as the constitutional rights are violated.

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