Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing. I thank all of the witnesses for taking time out of your schedules to give us your perspectives on the provisions of the "Federal Home Loan Bank System Modernization Act of 1997" and the problems of rural credit. I commend Senator Hagel for searching for avenues that will assist small banks locate and use more funding sources in a time of changing demographics and economies in rural communities.
I recognize the important service that our small community banks provide to the rural economies. However, I do want to express my reservations for expanding a GSE, the Federal Home Loan Bank System, to that which is well beyond its original mission. I wonder if the Federal Home Loan Bank System should be in the business of assisting banks in providing cheaper money they need, or does it and should it continue to exist primarily for the purpose of increasing homeownership?
I look forward to hearing the testimony of the witnesses.
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