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Congressman Joseph Crowley
• Inouid like to begin by thanking Chairman Oxley and Ranking Member Frank for
conducting this important bearing this morning • Our Housing Government Spotisored Enterprises have been a focal point of many
hearings of this Committee over the past sen years
What have we lezmed?
• They are safe and sound financial institutions, as they have always met the tougt 6
voluntary commitments mandated by this Committee
• They have contributed significantly to keeping this economy afloat over the past 3 years
• They continually meet the housing goals as established by HLD
• They have done a phenomenal job at providing lower costs loans for homeowners
throughout the United States
• On that point, I cite a story from the Wall Street Joumal that demonstrates in my home
region of New York City that jumbo rates are much greater then conforming loan rates in large pan because of the existence of the housing GSE's in the conforming market
I do have a concern that the housing GSE’s be granted more flexibility in adjusting the definition of conforming loan limits for high cost areas, like New York City
• I welcome the participation of all parties at this hearing today, especially the Chairman of
Fannie Mae, Frank Raines who is a stable voice at Fannie, just as he was a stable voice at OMB when he was head there, a long time ago, when surpluses, prosperity and near zero unemployment were our nation's biggest economic concerns
• Additionally, I look forward to hearing from Freddie Mac. While the newspapers have
been discussing their recent restatements, and I do not condone the accounting problems there, I would like to remind people that when they restated, they showed GREATER earnings, not less, like most of the corporate accounting scandals we have seen over the past 3 years
In my Congressional District alone, Freddie's $403.9 million in mortgage purchases financed homeownership for 3,413 families
Additionally, I greatly look forward to hearing the comments of Panel 3, important mission of Freddie and Fannie
Regardless of the fate of OFHEO, any reform legislation must mandate that the missions of the housing GSE's remain, and I believe they are best kept at HUD, the Federal department dedicated to housing
Additionally, we need to ensure the independence of the GSE's with respect to their creativity in creating new products for market
This Committee wrote Gramm-Leach-Bliley. It would be against our basic nature to now restrict the ability of private companies to limit their dynamicism and creativity in bringing products to market - products which benefit our consumers
• Additionally, I am interested in hearing the testimony of OFHEO. They have been a
much-maligned agency; while they have had problems, let us remember that it was Congress that repeatedly refused to provide them the funding they needed to do their job
I look back at the Hinchey Amendment to the FY 2001 VA-HUD bill; while Mr. Baker did support this amendment to increase the oversight budget of HUD, most of his colleagues did not, and it failed on a near party line vote
If OFHEO is essentially dissolved and its work brought to Treasury, I would want to make sure that it is done in a way that will not upset our capital markets but also ensure that the creativity of the GSE's are preserved, the independence of OFHEO is kept and that the mission of the using GSE's as well as their goals remain in place
As we all know, housing has been a provider of jobs and benefits, incomes and tax revenues during the past three years of recession, supporting the rest of the economy. We cannot dismantle this
That is why I salute Treasury Secretary Snow's comments on not wanting to change the capital standards of the housing GSE's
While it is clear to me that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are financially strong and sound, I think the financial markets would benefit from Congressional action to show that we will ensure that the role played by the Housing GSE's is maintained, and that their charter and mission to engage in all communities on behalf of affordable housing remains a priority.
I am prepared to work with you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Frank, to develop legislation this year to establish a strong safety and soundness regulator for the Housing GSE's at the Treasury Department if that is the will of this Committee
Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Frank for holding this hearing today
September 25, 2003
Opening Statement by Congressman Paul E. Gillmor
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this important hearing and for your continued leadership on this issue. I would like to take this opportunity to extend a special welcome to David H. Hehman, the President and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati in the great State of Ohio, which provides a great service to many banks in my district, the Fifth Congressional District of Ohio.
I think we're all in agreement that the current system of regulatory oversight for our Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) needs to be reformed. Today, I look forward to a full discussion of all the proposals before us with the benefit of Treasury Secretary John Snow and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Mel Martinez' remarks fronı our last hearing on this issue.
Late last year, in the wake of the Enron scandal and subsequent revelations of widespread problems in the accounting industry, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Company (Freddie Mac) announced that it would have to restate its earnings after it fired its former auditor, Arthur Anderson.
This reevaluation kept Freddie Mac from upholding their voluntary agreement to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) did in April of 2003. Two months later the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) released its annual report to Congress addressing the upcoming earnings restatement by Freddie Mac, while expressing satisfaction with the independence of their internal and external audits and confidence in the actions of
Freddie Mac's Board of Directors.
It concerns me greatly that the responsible federal regulator, OFHEO, was clearly unaware of these problems inside the management of Freddie Mac and was previously unaware of their need for an earnings restatement. OFHEO simply was not doing its job. I am pleased to be an original cosponsor of Chairman Baker's legislation, the Secondary Mortgage Market Enterprises Regulatory Improvement Act (H.R. 2575), moving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under the supervision of the Treasury Department. I think it is very important that Treasury maintain full regulatory authority over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ensure their safety and soundness.
With regard to the mission of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae, including approval of new programs and fulfillment of affordable housing goals, I feel both Secretary Snow and Martinez made clear that a consultation process could be established allowing the Treasury Department to benefit from HUD's knowledge in this area without giving up regulatory authority.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for calling this important hearing and I look forward to an informative session.
Statement of Congressman Charles Gonzalez (D-TX)
House Financial Service Committee Hearing on H.R. 2575, the Secondary Mortgage Market Enterprises Regulatory Improvement Act and the Administration's proposals on GSE regulation
September 25, 2003
I would like to welcome our distinguished guests to today's hearing on proposals to restructure federal oversight of Government Sponsored Enterprises. Thank you for joining us to offer your views on this critical issue.
As we all know, recent serious allegations of accounting improprieties at one of the GSE's has lead this Committee to review the safety and soundness oversight of these critical institutions. The GSE's are a critical part of our nation's economy and I am glad that we are looking at improving federal oversight of their business practices. In my opinion though, most Members of this Committee will support a transfer of safety and soundness jurisdiction to the Department of Treasury, provided that any such transfer would in no way weaken the housing mission of these institutions. The housing mission is the fundamental reason why the GSE's were created in the first place, and any structural changes to GSE oversight must ultimately result in housing becoming more affordable in America and not less.
There have been suggestions from some quarters that any changes to the GSE structure should include more aggressive review of their product development. I do support efforts to fully ensure that the safety and soundness oversight of these institutions is world class. But, we should not overburden these critical institutions with so much regulatory review that they lose the flexibility to quickly introduce new and creative products to the market. I will be looking closely at any proposals in this area to ensure that they result in more choices for consumers and not less.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been critical to making home ownership more affordable for millions of American families. I am firmly convinced that but for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac we would not have ever increasing rates of home ownership especially in the Hispanic and African American communities. Whatever changes we consider over the next couple of weeks must have the interests of American consumers and taxpayers foremost in mind. I hope that during this process we do not lose sight of the fundamental purpose of the GSE’s-to make housing more affordable for average Americans. Thank you and I yield back my time.