“The way to restart the economy is to stabilize the housing market and when Congress resumes in a week, Republicans will push an aggressive plan to provide relief for families currently suffering from the housing mortgage slump.” –Lamar Alexander
– U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said today at a meeting of the Downtown Chattanooga Rotary Club that Congress needs to push an aggressive plan to stabilize the housing market and stop the mortgage slump.
“The way to restart the economy is to stabilize the housing market and when Congress resumes in a week, Republicans will push an aggressive plan to provide relief for families currently suffering from the housing mortgage slump,” Alexander said. “I’ve cosponsored legislation both to provide relief for families and to stimulate demand for new and foreclosed homes, reducing the inventory.”
This month, Alexander joined Senator Kit Bond (R-Mo.) in introducing the Security Against Foreclosures and Education (SAFE) Act which seeks to boost the nation’s confidence in the housing market by providing:
- $10 billion in bond authority to refinance distressed subprime mortgages.
- $15,000 tax credit (spread over three years) for the purchase of a home in or near foreclosure
- Expedited delivery of $180 million in loan counseling funds to help families avoid foreclosure that was included in the Omnibus appropriations bill that became law in December
- Updating outdated Truth In Lending requirements that don’t currently cover newer adjustable rate mortgages so consumers will better understand the loans they are considering
- Extension of foreclosure protection for veterans from 90 days to 6 months
- Federal Housing Administration (FHA) reforms that would make purchasing a home more affordable for many Americans by increasing the loan amounts that FHA can insure and reducing the minimum down payment from 3% to 1.5%.
Alexander today outlined legislation he’s cosponsored with Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) to provide a $15,000 tax credit over three years to anyone purchasing a newly constructed home, a foreclosed home or a home where foreclosure is pending. Alexander opposes Democratic efforts to revive legislation – rejected by the Senate in February -- that includes a proposal sponsored by Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) that would lead to higher interest rates for those seeking new mortgages by allowing bankruptcy judges to rewrite mortgage terms for a borrower’s primary residence.
“Next month, the Democratic majority is expected to make another push for legislation – which the Senate rejected last month – that would turn mortgages into junk bonds and undermine property values. If the Durbin legislation becomes law, we could see mortgage rates increase by 1.5 points, which would increase the cost of a new mortgage by over $1,500 per year for Tennessee homebuyers.”
Alexander said that Tennessee was eighth highest in the country during the third quarter of 2007 in the number of homeowners whose mortgage payments were delinquent – making their homes subject to foreclosure.
"This is a 54 percent increase in Tennessee mortgage delinquencies over two years, from 53,800 delinquencies in the third quarter of 2005 to 82,700 in the third quarter of 2007," Alexander said, citing statistics from the Joint Economic Committee of Congress.
As newly elected Senate Republican Conference Chairman – the third highest ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate – Alexander says he now has even more opportunities to build upon his record of working with Republicans and Democrats.
“The Senate isn’t going to get results simply by beating our chests and sticking our fingers in the eyes of the other party,” Alexander concluded. “My goal as Conference Chairman is to help our Conference and the Senate as a whole do a better job of showing the American people what we’re for and what we’ve accomplished, not just what we’re against. That way we can work together to help American families balance their budgets and keep money in their pocketbooks.”
Alexander is on a week-long tour of Tennessee to meet with locals about current issues facing Congress while the Senate takes its March recess.
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Below is a summary of Alexander’s progress in assisting the Chattanooga community.
Chattanooga Projects- Accomplishments
Worked with former Senator Frist and Congressman Wamp to get funds for the project included in the President’s budget beginning in Fiscal Year 2006, a critical step towards making sure the lock received the necessary funding to complete the project.
Continue to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to keep an aggressive maintenance schedule for the aging lock and prevent a shutdown of the old lock while the new lock is constructed.
In the FY08 Omnibus Appropriations bill, helped secure $35 million in funding for the lock. In FY09, $46 million is needed to stay on schedule, of which $42 million was included in the President’s Budget.
Enterprise South Industrial Park
Funding for development of the Industrial Park and for the I-75 connector road to the Park.
Chattanooga Riverfront Development
Funding for revitalization of the downtown riverfront
Center for Entreprenurial Growth
The Center, located at Enterprise South Industrial Park, will work with the Chamber, TVA, UTC and Chattanooga State to help promote new jobs and economic growth in the region.
Chick-Chatt National Military Park
Funding for land acquisition adjacent to the National Military Park