Today, at a House Financial Services Committee markup of 7 bills, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, gave the following opening statement:
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I understand that this is likely the first of several markups this month, as part of an effort to move forward a package of capital markets bills.
While it is important for the Committee to consider measures that will help our small businesses grow and add jobs, I am concerned that several of the capital markets bills slated for consideration today are problematic. One such bill on the agenda today, H.R. 5756, silences shareholders by curtailing their rights to offer proposals that not only benefit the companies they own, but also the broader public interest. We must remember that shareholder proposals led Dow Chemicals to stop manufacturing napalm for use in war zones, convinced British Petroleum to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and, just last month, encouraged Amazon to take steps to improve the diversity of its board of directors.
For the past six years I’ve also noticed that this Committee has tended to consider bills that help Wall Street and other titans in the financial services industry while paying scant attention to the plight of those without roofs over their heads. This markup, Mr. Chairman, is no different.
It is another missed opportunity to consider legislation to address important housing issues. In particular, we need to turn our attention to ending the homelessness crisis. With over half a million people experiencing homelessness in this country, action is long overdue.
It is encouraging that the Committee has begun to hold hearings related to homelessness, but we must move forward with effective solutions. This week the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance held a legislative hearing on a bill related to homelessness, but it is unfortunately a bill that would likely do more harm than good. To tackle homelessness, we need to provide funding and resources. Just as Congress puts billions of dollars into defense spending, we must provide the funding necessary to ensure that all Americans have access to safe, decent and affordable housing.
That’s why last year I introduced H.R. 2076, the Ending Homelessness Act of 2017, which would help to ensure that every American has a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. The bill provides $13.27 billion in new funding over five years to federal programs and initiatives to prevent homelessness. Now, I want to point out that the nation’s newest aircraft carrier alone cost over $13 billion – surely if we can spend $13 billion on an aircraft carrier, we can spend $13 billion to end homelessness in this country.
Last year I also introduced H.R. 3160, the Public Housing Tenant Protection and Reinvestment Act, a bill to ensure safe, decent, and affordable housing for the 1.1 million families who rely on public housing. With many families in public housing experiencing deteriorating living conditions, it is essential that we take action to preserve and revitalize the nation’s public housing stock.
Mr. Chairman, as you are convening the Committee for these upcoming markups, I call on you to include Democratic bills aimed at addressing homelessness and improving the state of housing in this country. Helping the nation’s most vulnerable families simply must be a top priority for this Committee.
Thank you and I yield back the balance of my time.