Senators craft extended mortgage relief for military

Five Democratic senators introduced a bill expanding mortgage and foreclosure protections for military families.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., led the bill, known as the Servicemember Housing Protection Act. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, co-sponsored the legislation.

The House passed a military spending bill recently with expanded home loan protections attached as an amendment. A Senate panel passed a defense appropriations bill of its own, but the two versions wait to be combined.

The bill introduced in the Senate is a separate one, though it shares many characteristics with the House amendment.

The Reed bill allows a nine-month extension on a foreclosure for a military member’s surviving spouse. That’s the same amount of time the servicemember would have received had he or she survived.

The House bill extends this protection to a 12-month window.

The Reed bill also allows servicemembers to submit commanding officer letters in lieu of official military orders when a bank requires them at a time of deployment. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act definition provides some gray area on the letter issue. Reed said he is attempting to clarify the language.

“Doing so would further ensure that a servicemember promptly receives the protections under the SCRA and has more time to get his or her affairs in order prior to deployment,” according to a statement from his office.

Several states allow servicemembers to provide a military order in order to terminate a lease and move into on-base housing. The Reed bill would provide this option for all states, as well.

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