WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in support of H.R. 384, the TARP Reform and Accountability Act to amend the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP):
“Last fall, at the urging of President Bush, Treasury Secretary Paulson, and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, Congress took extraordinary action to stabilize America’s financial markets and limit the scope of an economic crisis. I know that the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) was one of the most difficult votes that anyone in this chamber had ever taken. But passing that bill was the right thing to do—and even with all of the turmoil of the past months, my mind hasn’t changed.
“On the other hand, I don’t think anyone in this chamber is happy with TARP, either. As it has done so many times in the last eight years, the Bush Administration failed to follow Congressional intent when it came to executing a law. The Administration has failed to fight the wave of foreclosures at the source of this crisis, and it did too little to maximize the effectiveness of TARP funds in helping to restore our economy’s flow of credit. Nor did the Administration adequately track how taxpayer money was spent to ensure that banks were using it for the intended purposes.
“We cannot in good conscience approve another $350 billion request without confidence that those failures will be remedied.
“This bill strengthens accountability and oversight measures, so that we can get necessary loans flowing again to families and businesses. It requires detailed reports from recipients of TARP funds and ensures that those funds un-thaw credit. It provides even stronger limits on executive compensation, so that taxpayers can be sure their money is not funding million-dollar Park Avenue apartments for CEOs. It clarifies the Treasury Department’s authority to use TARP funds to benefit small financial institutions, auto companies, consumers, and municipalities. And it insists that Treasury immediately commit $100 billion to fight foreclosures and help Americans keep their homes.
“President-elect Obama has promised that ‘we are going to fundamentally change some of the practices in using this next phase of the program.’ I agree wholeheartedly, and this bill is a strong first step toward that change. But I also want to make clear that the same high standards of oversight ought to apply to any Administration, Republican or Democratic. TARP funds must be watched with the same 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?
“Lyndon Johnson said—in words I’ve quoted before and I’m sure I’ll quote again—‘It’s not hard to do the right thing. It’s hard to know what the right thing is.’
“In this crisis, the problems are as complex as our end goal is simple: Businesses hiring, families thriving, America growing once again. But I am convinced that passing this bill is the right thing to do. I hope and trust that my colleagues will see it the same way.”