Three Trump administration officials testified before the Senate Banking Committee on September 10 about the White House’s plan for housing finance reform. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria emphasized the need for administrative reforms to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while citing their preference for Congress to enact comprehensive changes.
In his opening statement, Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) called housing finance reform the “last unfinished business of the financial crisis.” He urged his colleagues to work together to advance bipartisan reform legislation but noted that “it is important for the administration to begin moving forward with incremental steps that move the system in the right direction.”
Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) focused his opening statement on the risks posed by the Trump proposal. “Rather than create a system that addresses the needs of working families, the Trump administration has put out half-baked proposals that will make mortgages more expensive and harder to get.”
Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and others focused much of their questioning on the impact of housing finance reform on rural and tribal communities. Under the White House proposal, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would no longer be required to uphold a “duty to serve” rural communities.
Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) voiced concerns about the impacts of the proposed changes on the rental housing market. Senator Cortez Masto asked the witnesses direct questions about the administration’s support for the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF). In past bipartisan reform bills, funding to the HTF would have been expanded to $3.5 billion annually. Director Calabria responded that he would continue to fund the HTF in accordance with the federal statute. Secretary Carson suggested he might seek changes to the HTF, though he declined to identify any specific concerns he has with the program.
Senators Doug Jones (D-AL) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) questioned Secretary Carson about HUD’s efforts to roll back fair housing and civil rights protections, including the administration’s proposals on disparate impact and affirmatively furthering fair housing.
“Achieving comprehensive housing finance reform requires moving the conversation forward, not back - but the administration recycles old, tired proposals that have been refuted and rebuked,” NLIHC said in a press statement about the administration’s proposal.
Read Senator Crapo’s opening statement at: https://tinyurl.com/yyvy6czx
Read Senator Brown’s opening statement at: https://tinyurl.com/yyngoabg
Read Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s testimony at: https://tinyurl.com/yycw2r2p
Read HUD Secretary Carson’s testimony at: https://tinyurl.com/y2fzetsr
Read FHFA Director Mark Calabria’s testimony at: https://tinyurl.com/y5l8s6p8
Read NLIHC’s press statement at: https://bit.ly/2lKlBks