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McCain and Financial Reform of Fannie Mae

While doing some research into the substantial influence of the Christian Right in politics these days, I came across an allegation that John McCain had supported a bill while in the Senate in 2005 that would have reformed the regulations governing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As usual, there was a lot of finger pointing that eliminated the need for further fact-finding. It is always easier to blame someone else than to look at what really happened, isn’t it?

Here are the facts:

H.R. 1461, the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005, was introduced into the House of Representatives by Richard Baker (R-LA) on April 5, 2005. After 9 amendments, it was passed by the House of Representatives on October 25, 2005 and sent to the Senate on October 31, 2005. The bill was read twice and then referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

The 109th Congress, which comprises both the House of Representatives and the Senate, ran from January 3, 2005 to January 3, 2007.

On January 26, 2005, Senator Charles Hegel (R-NE) introduced S. 190, the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005. It had three co-sponsors: John McCain (R-AZ), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), and John Sununu (R-NH). The Bill never even made it past the Introduction part of the legislative process. It was never scheduled for debate nor was it voted on in the Senate. John McCain made a speech about the bill on May 25, 2006, 17 months after the Bill was introduced and 7 months after the bill that the House of Representatives passed on October 25, 2005.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate were controlled by the Republicans during this time period. George Bush was President.

My question is this: If George Bush or anyone else in the Republican Party thought this was of pressing importance, why couldn’t they exercise enough influence to get the bill passed so that he could sign it? Talk is cheap and so is finger-pointing. The McCain campaign tries to blame the Democrats for the failure of this Bill and McCain’s co-sponsored bill didn’t even get past the Introduction stage!

As I understand the legislative process, bills can be introduced in either body and must advance to the other body for revisions before the bill is finally passed by the Senate and sent to the President. The President can either sign the bill, veto the bill, or exercise a pocket veto, which is effectively a veto, but one that the Congress cannot over-ride, since it is no longer in session.

I think it is shameful for both the Obama and McCain campaigns to be engaging in this nonsense. If anyone is to blame, it is Congress and the lack of leadership on the part of the Republican Party – they are the ones who controlled Congress at that time. Neither Obama nor McCain had an opportunity to vote on Charles Hagel’s bill – the investigative effort should be directed to what happened to the bill in the Senate, not to pointing fingers at someone and engaging in the blame game. Obama is not bringing this issue up, nor is McCain, because both are part of the problem, not part of the solution!

An even more important fact is being completely overlooked here: what did each bill do and how effective would it have been in preventing the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Not a word has been written or spoken about this. Instead, it is all about pointing fingers and blaming.

Shame on all of you!

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