Friday, March 11, 2011

GOP Kills Connolly Military Mortgage Relief Amendment

As discussions about budgetary issues continue, one of the major complaints the American people have about the GOP’s spending plan is that they simply don’t understand the value of the programs being cut. Rep. Steny Hoyer even used a morning hour speech yesterday to highlight how the GOP’s cuts could have a devastating impact on the economy. Today we’re seeing a prime example of how the GOP is cutting valuable programs today when an amendment proposed by Congressman Gerry Connolly to continue providing emergency mortgage assistance to service members, veterans, and gold star families failed on a party line vote today.

The vote on Connolly’s amendment came as the House of Representatives passed legislation to strip assistance to homeowners in distress. During a time when we’re still recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, you’d think our Congress would want to do what it could to support struggling working class families. Considering that this crisis also came at a time when we’re fighting two wars, Connolly highlighted how military families have been hit harder than many other areas. In military towns, the foreclosure rate is four times higher than the national average and the rate of foreclosure in towns within ten miles of a military facility rose by 217 percent from 2007 to 2009, compared with just 59 percent nationwide. A local example of this for folks in Northern Virginia can be seen in Woodbridge, Virginia near Marine Corps Base Quantico where the foreclosure rate increased 414 percent.

That is why Connolly offered the amendment to H.R. 836, the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program Termination Act, which would continue the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program for members of the Armed Forces, Veterans, and Gold Star Families. While it was clear that the Republicans would pass the entire bill, even though the program would help homeowners who were struggling through no fault of their own, Connolly’s amendment would have allowed the program to continue for military families. The GOP obviously didn’t agree this was a good idea as the amendment was killed on the House floor by a largely party line vote of 182-238.

In addition to pointing out that “the unemployment rate for the heroes who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan is fifteen percent higher than the national average,” Connolly also mentioned how this “underscores the hardships these veterans face when they return home.” In response to the GOP’s decision not to support the amendment, he also mentioned how “Once again, the Republican Majority has shown that they know the cost of everything but the value of nothing. All of us in Congress have a sacred obligation to fight for those who fight for us. I’m saddened by the fact that, today, this body was unwilling to fight.”

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