WASHINGTON — Today, at a full Committee hearing entitled, “A Failure to Act: How a Decade without GSE Reform Has Once Again Put Taxpayers at Risk,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following statement:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, this hearing will focus on the failure to reform our housing finance system. I would point out that Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the White House, and there have been no apparent steps to advance comprehensive housing finance reform since they gained that control.
It was over five years ago that Committee Republicans pushed the PATH Act through this Committee. That bill was not seen as credible. It failed to gain unanimous Republican support in Committee, and the Republican leadership of the House declined to bring the bill to the House floor for a vote.
I am in support of responsible efforts to reform our housing finance system. I believe we must evaluate what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have done well, as well as areas where the system still needs improvement and reform. Contrary to the claims of the Majority, Fannie and Freddie did not cause the crisis. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and others have made that clear. As we all know, the crisis was driven by predatory lending, the private market packaging those toxic, risky loans into securities and then selling those securities to unsuspecting investors. Fannie and Freddie did not drive those actions, but the events that transpired during the crisis made clear the need for their reform.
While the Republican-controlled Congress has yet to act, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has taken significant administrative steps to improve the safety and soundness of the enterprises and reduce risk to taxpayers.
As we consider housing finance reform and work to address the structure of our housing finance system, it is a priority for me to ensure that underserved borrowers and communities are not overlooked. This means that at the heart of any reform proposal, we need a comprehensive strategy around access to affordable mortgage credit, as well as access to affordable rental housing.
With that, I yield back the balance of my time.