Barney Frank to Retire, Reverse Mortgage Industry Loses Supporter

Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), co-author of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that is changing the course of the nation’s financial regulatory environment, announced Monday that he will not seek reelection in 2012. He has held his seat as Representative of the Fourth Congressional District of Massachusetts for more than 30 years and has long been a knowledgable member of Congress on the topic of reverse mortgages.

“From the standpoint of the reverse mortgage industry, we are losing an influential member of Congress who is perhaps the single most knowledgeable individual on Capitol Hill when it comes to reverse mortgage issues,” said Peter Bell, president and CEO of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association. “Barney took the time to learn our topic and has been helpful to us on many occasions over the years, both in achieving our legislative objectives and in getting other members of his committee to be supportive on matters concerning us.”

Frank held the position of Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and is now a ranking member, and has had a longstanding political role in the regulation of financial products including mortgages and reverse mortgages. Most recently, Frank co-authored the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was signed into law in 2010 and mandates changes to U.S. financial governance that continue to be implemented. Under Dodd-Frank, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which oversees mortgage products including reverse mortgages, was created. Also under Dodd-Frank, the reverse mortgage industry has seen changes to loan officer compensation, among others.

During a press conference Monday Frank said it has become increasingly difficult to make meaningful change in Washington.

“Our politics has evolved in a way that makes it harder to get anything done at the federal level,” Frank said in prepared remarks for members of the press on Monday. “I believe that I have been effective as a Member of Congress working inside the process to influence public policy in the ways that I think are important. But I now believe that there is more to be done trying to change things from outside than by working within.”

Frank said he has been considering retirement since the completion of the passage of the Dodd-Frank bill last year and that he has been thinking about pursuing an interest in writing.

With respect to the reform bill and its critics in Washington, Frank said he remains concerned about financial reform.

“I was—and am—concerned about right-wing assaults on the financial reform bill, especially since we are now in a very critical period when the bill is in the process of implementation,” he said.

Recently, House Republicans have blocked the nomination of a leader to direct the new CFPB, among other critiques of the legislation. However, industry leaders say he will be missed.

“His departure from Congress will be a big loss to the reverse mortgage sector,” Bell said.

Additionally, the American Bankers Association issued a statement in response to the decision, touting Frank’s leadership.

“Rep. Frank has always been a formidable but fair legislator who understands financial markets and the indispensable role banks play in the broader economy,” said American Bankers Association President and CEO Frank Keating. “His depth of knowledge and willingness to be open to opposing viewpoints will be greatly missed.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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