Today, at a House Financial Services Committee markup of four 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, it is disappointing that this is the second markup this month without any major legislation on the agenda to help America’s most vulnerable families, or hardworking Americans struggling to make ends meet.
I will note that there are some productive bipartisan measures on the agenda that I will support, including H.R. 6069, a bipartisan bill that would require the GAO to study the ways in which virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to buy, sell, or facilitate the financing of goods or services associated with sex or drug trafficking, and H.R. 5953, a bipartisan bill that would allow nonprofits, such as Habitat for Humanity, that are eligible for tax-exempt charitable donations and are making zero-interest mortgage loans, to choose the mortgage disclosure forms they will use.
Mr. Chairman, I understand that the Counter Terrorism and Illicit Finance Act, a bill to reform the Bank Secrecy Act and Anti-Money Laundering framework that was noticed for this markup, has been pulled from consideration so that it can be modified. I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to strengthen the bill and make sure that it addresses the issue of beneficial ownership and the problem of anonymous shell companies.
Currently, it can be very difficult to identify who the beneficial owner of a company is, which allows bad actors to circumvent U.S. laws to launder and hide money, or to exert influence. This is a considerable problem in the real estate sector, which of course this President is deeply involved in. Press reports have indicated that since Donald Trump’s election, anonymous shell companies now represent 70% of the purchasers of Trump properties. Without reforms to address beneficial ownership, it is very difficult to know who exactly is behind these purchases and what they may be seeking in return from this President. This is a serious threat to our national security, and it must be addressed.
The Fraternal Order of Police called the decision not to include a section addressing beneficial ownership in the bill "almost criminal." So let’s not miss this opportunity to make sensible reforms to the Bank Secrecy Act and fix this significant problem of anonymous shell companies.
Mr. Chairman, I also understand that there may be a third markup later this month. I again call on you to include some Democratic bills to benefit vulnerable families in that markup, such as my bills to address the homelessness crisis and revitalize public housing. Over a hundred bills have been marked up by this Committee so far this Congress – there is simply no good reason not to consider and debate sensible legislation to help the homeless and other vulnerable Americans.
Thank you and I yield back the remainder of my time.