Opening Statements of Committee Members


Opening Statement of Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)

Hearing on the Mission of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO)
and the Financial Safety and Soundness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Tuesday, May 8, 2001, 9:30 a.m - Dirksen 538

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this oversight hearing on the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) and the two largest housing GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I appreciate any opportunity to learn more about these companies and their regulator.

This hearing is particularly important because the three institutions we are examining today are major partners in the effort to open the door of homeownership to low and moderate income Americans. Congress chartered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase U.S. residential mortgages at or below the conforming loan limit. As a result, the secondary mortgage market was born. Although Fannie and Freddie do not originate mortgages, the resources that their mortgage purchases send back into the primary market provide lenders with more money to offer more mortgages. On the other hand, Congress entrusted OFHEO with the task of monitoring the financial safety and soundness of the housing GSEs. Considering the size of the GSEs' portfolios, OFHEO has an enormous responsibility. As members of the oversight committee, it is our job to make sure that these institutions succeed in fulfilling their statutory missions.

Congress and the Administration will continue working to increase homeownership opportunities, particularly for low income families and minorities. In order to achieve this goal, the continued health of the secondary mortgage market is essential. I am pleased that reports by OFHEO and other private-sector evaluators indicate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in good financial health. I encourage the GSEs to continue to be mindful of sound management and financial practices as they strive to meet the higher affordable housing goals that HUD, their mission regulator, has set for them.

Mr. Chairman, homeownership rates are at record levels in the United States. These numbers are encouraging, but we can do better. Less than half of African-American and Latino families own their own homes. Secretary Martinez is committed to raising the level of homeownership among minority families. I look forward to working with the Secretary and with the housing GSEs to make the dream of homeownership, and the economic security it provides, a reality for these families.

Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing.