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Ranking Member Waters' Opening Statement at Today's Hearing with Treasury Secretary Lew

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, delivered  the following statement at today's full Committee hearing with Treasury Secretary Lew:

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.  I am very pleased to welcome Secretary Lew to his first appearance before the Financial Services Committee to deliver the annual report of the Financial Stability Oversight Council as required by the Dodd-Frank Act.

We are aware of your tremendous responsibility, we are very pleased that you were confirmed, and many of us look forward to working with you to ensure that you are able to do the best job possible. As the Council notes in its report, despite some positive developments in 2012, the housing market remains anemic and the foreclosure crisis continues to weigh heavily on our fragile economy.  Moreover, mortgage lenders’ poor servicing standards have yielded ongoing court challenges, slowing the process and leaving millions of homeowners in limbo as they contend with inadequate government programs and mass settlements.

RealtyTrac reported that from January 2007 to December 2011, there were more than 4 million completed foreclosures and more than 8.2 million foreclosures starts.  And while estimates of future foreclosures range widely, Moody’s Analytics recently estimated that foreclosures will strike another 3 million homes in the next three or four years. Accordingly, I do hope that Secretary Lew can today discuss with the Committee how housing -- both legacy issues and prospective reform -- factors into his agenda. 

Lastly, I am concerned that our financial system remains at risk from delays in implementation of Dodd-Frank and continued industry challenges, both here in Congress and in the courts, to weaken the rules before they’ve even been implemented.  While Title VII of Dodd-Frank was designed to increase the transparency of the over-the-counter derivatives market, many of the most critical components remain stalled in rulemakings, challenged in the courts, or obstructed in the Congress. 

This slow pace of Title VII rulemakings, combined with delays in implementation of the Volcker Rule, finalization of the living wills and the designation of systemically important financial institutions, are made only more troubling when considered in the context of the myriad financial scandals – from the LIBOR and money laundering cases to illegal foreclosures – that have occurred since the passage of the Wall Street Reform Act.  For these reasons, I am concerned that our financial system remains fragile, despite substantial improvements since 2008.

I therefore look forward to your testimony and insight that you may be able to provide on all of the above matters and what FSOC is currently doing to monitor systemic risk and preserve financial stability. 

I yield back the balance of my time.



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