In opening remarks during a Financial Services Committee markup today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the Committee’s Ranking Member, both scolded Committee Republicans on their attempts to once again roll back investor protections and also called for the Committee to focus on addressing poverty and homelessness in the United States.
Waters noted that while some of the measures under consideration today were brought forward in good faith, concerns remain that Committee Republicans’ ultimate goal is to undercut Dodd-Frank, effectively dismantling reforms enacted to end the practices which led to the worst financial crisis in several generations. Waters noted that the Committee’s time would be better spent addressing the state of homelessness in America.
Ranking Member Waters has worked hard to shine a bright light on the issue of homelessness in America. Previously she led Committee Democrats in requestingChairman Hensarling to hold more hearings on ending homelessness, and most recently she hosted a Capitol Hill briefing with activist, actor and philanthropist Richard Gere, and housing experts on the crisis of homelessness in America.
Full text of the statement, as prepared for delivery, is below.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for hosting this mark-up this morning.
Today, we gather to discuss ten pieces of legislation that will impact our capital markets, our banking regulatory system and the way that Americans purchase flood insurance.
While some of these proposals are modest or incremental in nature, seeking, in good faith, to make improvements to existing law, the vast majority of the bills we will consider today represent the next phase of a coordinated attack on the proper functioning of our financial markets.
But none of us should be surprised by this. Since 2011, we have seen a consistent effort to undermine the structure and independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), deny proper funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and deregulate our largest banks.
It’s clear that the Majority has been determined to use this Committee to undo the important reforms we created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. And soon, on the House floor, I fear there will be attempts to gut the Administration’s rule to rein in conflicted retirement advice, as well as efforts to, once again, use the budget to undercut protections for those consumers who need them the most: mortgage borrowers, payday customers, servicemembers, and students.
The American people – on a strong, bipartisan basis – broadly favor efforts to properly regulate the financial services sector. When we use this Committee to advance the needs of special interests, rather than the interests of working people, we squander the trust of the public and fail in our obligation to protect the least of these.
So far, we have seen dozens upon dozens of piecemeal bills looking to undermine financial reform – either under the guise of “capital formation” or somehow giving consumers the “freedom” to access harmful financial products. And soon, if press reports are any indication, the Majority will switch gears and work to repeal sections of Dodd-Frank entirely – including the Volcker Rule and the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC).
And while this Committee continues to churn out bills that are not well-crafted, or arrived at in a thoughtful, bipartisan manner, we see the same dysfunction playing out on the Senate side with Republicans in that chamber refusing to consider nominees for key posts – from the SEC to the Federal Reserve to oversight of Terrorism and Financial Crimes at the Treasury Department. That, of course, is not even addressing the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, let me say that I am disappointed that while we continue to spend countless hours in this Committee on attempts to undermine Dodd-Frank, we neglect the issues that present the most pressing challenges for our country, including and especially homelessness in America. For example, Mr. Chairman, are you aware of the fact that we currently have nearly 600,000 people in this country who are homeless? And are you aware that of those people, over 173,000 of them are unsheltered? These are people who are staying in places not meant for human habitation, including the streets, abandoned buildings, vehicles, and parks. And are you aware of the fact that homelessness in several major cities has increased, with homelessness in Los Angeles growing by a staggering 20 percent in just one year? Despite being asked by nearly every Democratic member of this Committee to hold a series of hearings on the state of homelessness in America, we have not held one single hearing on the issue. While we continue to churn out bills on this Committee whose consequences are not well thought-out, we are failing to properly address the dire, abject poverty facing too many of our fellow Americans. And we don’t need a task force, Mr. Chairman, to tell us that the time for action on these issues is now.