Federal housing finance overhaul (H.R. 1427)/Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) amendment to require that the amount allocated to the affordable housing fund not exceed the amount allocated in the preceding year if in that year the federal government had a budget deficit and borrowed against the Social Security trust fund
house Roll Call 382 May 17, 2007
This vote was on an amendment to a bill to create a new independent agency to oversee the workings of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Bank System, the federally chartered organizations that support the home mortgage market. This amendment, proposed by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), would have required that the amount allocated to the affordable housing fund created by the legislation not exceed the amount allocated in the preceding year if in that year the federal government had an "actual on-budget deficit" and an "actual off-budget surplus" - budget-speak for borrowing from the Social Security trust fund.
In addition to creating the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the underlying bill Roskam's amendment was seeking to change would also create a new stream of funding for affordable housing programs funded by contributions by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Roskam said his amendment would simply "postpone the diversion of funds to the affordable housing trust fund that is created in this bill until such time as Congress stops raiding the Social Security trust fund to pay for unrelated government programs."
"This year, the majority proposed and passed a budget that assumes it will raid the entire Social Security surplus, an estimated $190 billion, to spend on other government programs, and that amount will increase to $203 billion for the year 2008," Roskam said.
Roskam said a "yes" vote on his amendment would "take the money and put it into the Social Security trust fund."
But that's where Roskam got into rhetorical trouble with Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.)
Frank asserted that Roskam misstated his own amendment. "He says, instead of putting it in the affordable housing Fund, put it into Social Security," Frank said. "Nothing in this amendment does that. This amendment says that if there is a deficit in the federal budget, then you don't put the money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the affordable housing fund," but not put it into the Social Security trust fund as Roskam had originally indicated.
"There is no connection between the money being spent from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," Frank said, adding that "not spending the affordable housing fund would in no way reduce the deficit."
When Frank asked him to clarify what he meant, Roskam said, "Maybe it is a two-step dance."
To which Frank replied: "It is a two-step dance. Is the gentleman asking me to dance? He says it is a two-step dance. It is a Kabuki dance. It is a Dance of Seven Veils. I guess we will learn later what is the second step of the dance."
Frank concluded that Roskam's amendment, or at least his own interpretation of is, "is a perfect definition of a non sequitur."
Democrats were unanimous in their opposition, and 173 Republicans voted for it. Thus, on a near party-line vote of 173 to 245, the House voted to reject an attempt to tie contributions to an affordable housing program from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the federal government's borrowing against the Social Security trust fund, and a bill to reform the federally chartered organizations that support the home mortgage market went forward without the provision.
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