The Committee will come to order. I want to thank Mel Martinez, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development for coming here today. We asked the Secretary to appear before the Committee today to discuss the Department's proposed rule on the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act or "RESPA" as it is known in the industry. I understand that the Secretary has another commitment and won't be able to be with us for an extended period of time. However, I know he's going to want to have the opportunity to fully address our questions since RESPA is one of the Department's top priorities. I want to respect his time constraints, so I've asked members on both sides to waive their opening statements so we can get directly to the question and answer portion of the hearing. I appreciate them obliging me on that request.
Mr. Secretary, before you proceed with your opening statement, you should know from the outset that while I and many on this Committee support the goals of your effort, we have significant concerns with the rule as proposed. RESPA reform has broad, far reaching implications for the $2 trillion dollar housing industry and changes proposed would affect all players in the market Ė from consumers, to lenders, to settlement service providers. I understand that the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity; the full Committee on House Financial Services; and the House Committee on Small Business have all held hearings on this issue. That, and the 40,000 comments your Department has received on this proposal should be indicative of the great level of interest and concern this rule has generated. With that, I'll stop and let Secretary Martinez proceed with his opening statement.