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National votes

May 10, 2009

By Thomas Voting Reports

WASHINGTON - Here's how area members of Congress voted on major roll call votes in the week ending May 8.

HOUSE

Predatory home lending

Voting 300 for and 114 against, the House on May 7 passed a bill (HR 1728) to outlaw practices associated with subprime loans and the U.S. housing meltdown. The bill requires lenders to keep a financial stake in loans they sell into the securities market; assigns legal liability to those who originate and securitize mortgages; bars loans to borrowers who show "no reasonable ability" to pay; and outlaws refinancings aimed mainly at generating fees for the lending industry.

The bill prohibits early repayment penalties designed to trap borrowers in bad mortgages; excessive late-payment penalties; requirements that borrowers waive their right to sue lenders; and the issuance of single-premium credit insurance. The bill also sets federal standards for property appraisals and bans the steering of borrowers into subprime loans when they qualify for conventional mortgages.

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Additionally, the bill authorizes Department of Housing and Urban Development grants for credit counseling and state and local programs to educate low-income borrowers on obtaining home loans and averting foreclosures.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Roscoe Bartlett, R-6, yes

Pennsylvania

Bill Shuster, R-9, no

West Virginia

Shelley Moore Capito, R-2, yes

Mortgage-backed securities

The House on May 7 rejected, 171 for and 252 against, an amendment to strip HR 1728 of its legal liability for third parties who convert home loans into mortgage-backed securities.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

Financial crimes

Voting 367 for and 59 against, the House on May 6 passed a bill (S 386) toughening federal laws against mortgage and securities fraud and nearly doubling federal personnel for investigating and prosecuting financial crimes. The bill also would establish a commission of six Democratic appointees and four Republican appointees, armed with subpoena power, to investigate the ongoing economic crisis and recommend preventive steps.

The bill stipulates that money-laundering statutes cover "proceeds" rather than just "profits"; expands the definition of "financial institution" covered by fraud and money-laundering statutes to include mortgage lenders; authorizes $490 million over two years for hiring 700 FBI agents, prosecutors and forensic analysts to address white-collar fraud; and bolsters protections against fraud in stimulus spending and the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).

Additionally, the bill broadens the False Claims Act, under which private citizens can file fraud suits on behalf of the government and receive a large share of any recovered funds.

A yes vote was to send the bill to a House-Senate conference.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

SENATE

At-risk homeowners

Voting 91 for and five against, the Senate on May 6 passed a bill (S 896) revamping the 2008 Hope for Homeowners Program, which encourages lenders to refinance at-risk mortgages into 30-year, fixed-interest loans in return for Federal Housing Administration backing of the new loans. The program has fallen far short of its goal of stabilizing hundreds of thousands of mortgages headed for default.

The bill softens eligibility terms for borrowers and increases federal incentives for lenders, with $2.3 billion of its cost covered by the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). The bill also extends current FDIC insurance on bank deposits to $250,000 per person per institution through 2013.

A yes vote was to send the bill to House-Senate negotiations.

Maryland

Barbara Mikulski, D, yes

Benjamin Cardin, D, yes

Pennsylvania

Arlen Specter, D, yes

Robert Casey Jr., D, yes

West Virginia

Robert Byrd, D, yes

John Rockefeller, D, not voting

Bank stock dispute

Voting 36 for and 59 against, the Senate on May 5 refused to bar the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) from converting its holdings in U.S. banks to common stock. The amendment to S 896 concerned a Treasury plan to convert preferred stock, the equivalent of a loan, to common stock, which is equity. Backers say this would give banks capital for lubricating the economy, while foes call it a dangerous step toward nationalizing banks.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Maryland

Mikulski, no

Cardin, no

Pennsylvania

Specter, no

Casey, no

West Virginia

Byrd, no

Rockefeller, not voting

Foreclosed renters

Voting 57 for and 39 against, the Senate on May 6 amended S 896 to prevent the immediate eviction of renters from foreclosed properties. Tenants in multiunit buildings could remain until their leases expire, and tenants in residential homes would be allowed 90 days to relocate.

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

Maryland

Mikulski, yes

Cardin, yes

Pennsylvania

Specter, yes

Casey, yes

West Virginia

Byrd, yes

Rockefeller, not voting

Key votes ahead

In the week of May 11, the House will take up a $94 billion war-funding bill, while the Senate will debate new regulations for credit cards.

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