April 29, 2014


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, today delivered the following remarks after agreeing to recess a markup of S.1217, the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2013, for a short period of time to broaden bipartisan support:
As prepared for delivery:
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for making housing finance reform the Committee’s top priority.  You have been a great partner to work with over the last year, and thank you to your staff as well.  Senators Corker, Warner, and all of the co-sponsors of their bill deserve a great amount of credit for developing a proposal that helped get us to this point, and I thank them and their staffs for their hard work.
"There are many other Senators on this Committee who may not have introduced legislation, but have put a tremendous amount of thought and effort into the issue behind the scenes, advocating for a resolution.
"Housing finance reform remains the most significant piece of unfinished business from the 2008 financial crisis.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac greatly contributed to the housing bubble, the financial crisis, and the dramatic government intervention that resulted.  The current system is unsustainable, leaves taxpayers exposed to potentially trillions of dollars in liabilities, and has left the mortgage market in a state of limbo, forcing private capital out of the market.
"S.1217 will end the government domination of the U.S. housing market and re-establish the private sector as the engine of housing finance reform. 
"It moves decisions regarding mortgage credit to the private sector, rather than the government dictating how and to where credit flows.  It establishes strong underwriting standards to assure solid mortgages.  It provides strong protections for taxpayers, who are currently on the hook to bail out Fannie and Freddie in the event of another housing downturn.
"It ensures that community banks and credit unions, experts at meeting the financial needs of our communities, have clear and competitive access in the new system.  It ends the status quo, where Fannie and Freddie backed toxic mortgages and held basically no capital, to a system that protects taxpayers with a strongly-capitalized private sector housing market.
"We have the opportunity to fix our flawed system and set up a more efficient, sustainable, permanent housing finance system that will provide future economic opportunities for millions of families and individuals. I look forward to moving this legislation one step closer to that goal.
"Because this legislation has the support of a bipartisan majority on this Committee, we know that we will soon complete the Committee’s process on this bill.  I am confident that if we held the vote this morning, we would have more than the minimum number of votes needed to pass it on to the Floor.
"Nevertheless, while I do not relish the idea of a short delay, I am pleased that a number of Senators believe with just a brief period of additional time to consider it, they will have the opportunity to productively join us in efforts to reform the current system.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the coming days, to listening to their questions or concerns to help us find a bipartisan consensus with even stronger votes.
"Mr. Chairman, I also look forward to completing this markup with you in the very near future.  Thank you again to all of my colleagues for their continued efforts."