House Passes Cummings'; Legislation to Protect Servicemembers and Veterans from Foreclosure
Washington, DC—Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2481, the Veterans Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, which included provisions introduced by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to significantly expand home foreclosure protections for servicemembers, their families, and disabled veterans.
Below are Cummings’ remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the House floor today:
Thank you, Congressman Michaud and Members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, for working together to include provisions in this legislation to extend home foreclosure protections to our sevicemembers, veterans with disabilities, and surviving spouses.
For the last two years, I have aggressively investigated illegal foreclosures, inflated fees, and other abuses by banks against servicemembers, veterans, and their families. In my opinion, no one is more deserving of our help than our servicemembers who have sacrificed so much.
Yet, under current law, certain servicemembers, veterans with disabilities, and surviving spouses are not receiving the critical protections they need. As a result, banks are foreclosing on homes at the very moment when our heroes and their families deserve our support. As a country, we can do better.
That is why I introduced H.R. 1842, The Military Family Home Protection Act, which the House Veterans Affairs Committee included in the bill before us today. These common-sense provisions will better protect military families and veterans with disabilities by closing loopholes and providing needed reforms to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
These provisions are supported by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Military Officers Association of America, Gold Star Wives of America, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, all of whom have written letters of support.
This legislation has overwhelming bipartisan support, and I thank every Member of the Committee for their continued support.
With Veterans Day approaching, I believe one of the best ways to honor our veterans and those that serve is to help keep a roof over their heads after they have sacrificed so much for our freedom. I ask every Member to support this effort.
Cummings’ legislation would expand foreclosure protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) for servicemembers receiving hostile fire and imminent danger pay or placed on convalescent status; surviving spouses of servicemembers whose deaths are service-connected; and veterans who are disabled due to service-connected injuries. It would eliminate barriers for servicemembers applying for mortgage refinancing, prohibit banks from discriminating against servicemembers who are eligible for protections under SCRA, increase penalties for mortgage-related violations, and require lenders to designate a compliance officer to ensure that they protect the legal rights of servicemembers. Similar legislation was introduced by Senator John Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which passed the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last year.