WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in opposition to the resolution disapproving the release of remaining Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) funds under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“I don’t often quote myself. But today, I think that every Member of this House is thinking back to words we said in a similar debate four months ago, and wondering whether we can still stand by them. Mr. Speaker, I know I can stand by mine. Here’s what I said the first time TARP came to the floor: ‘Imagine that we do nothing today. Millions more homes will likely be foreclosed on. Banks would likely be unable to lend. Credit, the lifeblood of any economy, might dry up across America.’
“The vote on TARP was one of the most difficult any of us had ever taken. And I know that none of us, whichever way we voted, are completely happy with TARP’s results so far. But I stand by my words because I remain convinced that inaction would have been far more dangerous, and far more costly.
“Since the House took that unpopular vote, the flow of necessary lending has begun to resume. Much more work will be needed before our economy has recovered—but restoring credit is an essential step toward that goal. That is why we must vote down this disapproval resolution and release the remaining $350 billion.
“But it should strengthen our confidence to know that President Obama has learned from President Bush’s mistakes in administering these funds. As the new President promised, ‘We are going to fundamentally change some of the practices in using this next phase of the program.’ That means finally fighting the wave of foreclosures at the source of this crisis. It means tracking how TARP funds are spent and ensuring that banks are using them for the intended purposes. It means stronger oversight from Congress and detailed reports from the recipients of taxpayer money. And it means guaranteeing that taxpayers are not subsidizing million-dollar Park Avenue apartments for CEOs.
“The TARP Reform and Accountability Act set all of those conditions, and President Obama has made it clear that he will hold to them. That is the diligence we would expect from any lender—and how much more so when the source of the funds is the American taxpayer, when the principal runs into twelve digits, and when the stakes are so high?
“With TARP funds already beginning to take effect, and with these new safeguards in place, I ask my colleagues to release the remaining funds. Votes like these are never easy—but they can make the difference between a finite economic downturn and an historic economic collapse. I urge my colleagues to vote no.”