Republicans introduce eight bills to wind down Fannie and Freddie
Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee unveiled their plans to reform the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Tuesday with eight bills aimed at ending taxpayer bailouts, adding transparency and reducing costs. "Today marks the start of a process — a process to begin winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," said Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), who serves as chairman of a House Financial Services subcommittee. "Beginning today, and over the course of the next few months, my colleagues and I on the Financial Services Committee will introduce multiple rounds of very specific, very targeted bills to end the bailouts, protect the taxpayers and get private capital off the sidelines." Tuesday's proposed legislation is as follows: The Equity in Government Compensation Act suspends the current compensation packages for all employees at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and establishes a compensation system that is consistent with other senior executives in the federal government. "The failures of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac helped precipitate the deepest economic decline since World War II," the bill reads. It then lists all the financial bailouts the GSEs received from the government. "The director shall suspend the compensation packages approved for 2011 for the executive officers of an enterprise," it continues. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, sponsored the bill. The GSE Mission Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Cali.), aims to end all affordable housing goals set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. "The passage of legislation in the early '90s required the government-sponsored enterprises to devote a significant portion of their business to specific affordable housing goals," Royce said. "To meet these goals, the GSEs purchased more than $1 trillion in junk loans. These loans accounted for a large portion of the mortgage giants’ losses – losses that were later loaded onto the backs of American taxpayers." This bill would essentially repeal The Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992. The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Accountability and Transparency for Taxpayers Act, formally known H.R. 31, further regulates Fannie and Freddie by requiring the GSE Inspector General to report to Congress on a regular basis. Reports will include the dollar amount of current liabilities with a detailed breakdown of potential risk level, a compensation breakdown for GSE executives including bonuses, details on GSE foreclosure mitigation efforts, mortgage fraud prevention activities, a description of investments and holdings and an analysis of capital levels and portfolio size of each agency, among other things. The first reporting period would cover from the time Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went into conservatorship until the bill is implemented. After that, reports would be done on a quarterly basis. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) introduced the act. She is chairman of a House Financial Services subcommittee. Under the GSE Subsidy Elimination Act, the guarantee fee or g-fee would steadily increase over the course of two years in order to "to eliminate (Fannie and Freddie's) embedded subsidies" and "finally bring pricing parity between the private market and the GSEs," said Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas). He is the lead sponsor of this bill. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is sponsoring a bill called the GSE Portfolio Risk Reduction Act, to cap the current portfolios of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and increase their annual attrition rate. Hensarling’s bill accelerates and formalizes the reductions in the size of the GSEs’ portfolios by setting annual limits on the maximum size of each GSE’s retained portfolio. In the first year, the GSEs would have their portfolios capped at no more than $700 billion, declining to $600 billion for year two, $475 billion for year three, $350 billion for year four, and finally $250 billion in year five. Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), vice chairman of a House Financial Servicess subcommittee, is sponsoring the GSE Risk and Activities Limitation Act to prohibit Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from engaging in any new activities or businesses. “This bill will put restrictions on where GSEs can invest their money and thus protect American taxpayers from future failed bailouts, unsuccessful government programs, and wasteful spending," he said. The GSE Debt Issuance Approval Act sponsored by Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) requires formal approval by the Treasury for any new debt issuance by the GSEs. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, is sponsoring the GSE Credit Risk Equitable Treatment Act of 2011 to prohibit the exemption of GSE securities from the risk-retention requirements of Dodd-Frank. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be held to the same standards as any other secondary mortgage market participants. Under Dodd-Frank, Fannie and Freddie could still be able to purchase a mortgage from a financial institution that falls outside of the qualified residential mortgage definition and issue asset-backed securities backed by non-QRM assets. Garrett’s bill would clarify that a GSE loan purchase or asset-backed security issuance would not affect the status of the underlying assets. If the GSEs purchase a non-QRM loan, all lender risk-retention requirements will still apply, and if the GSEs issue a non-QRM security, all securitization risk retention rules will still apply. Write to Christine Ricciardi and Kerry Curry. Follow them on Twitter @HWnewbieCR and @CommunicatorKLC.