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Waters Statement at Federal Housing Finance Agency Oversight Hearing

Today, at a hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s role as conservator and regulator of the Government Sponsored Enterprises,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, gave the following statement:

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

We are here today for a hearing on oversight of the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) role as conservator and regulator of the Government Sponsored Enterprises.

FHFA plays a critical role in our housing system, and this Committee has a responsibility to conduct rigorous oversight of the agency. That includes all aspects of this agency.

I want to say up front that I have been friends with Director Watt for years. Of course, he was a member of this Committee and a colleague. In addition to that, I have dined at his home with him, his wife and mother. Of course, I have visited with his son in California and presented his grandchildren with gifts. So, we are indeed friends and colleagues. If this were a jury in a court of law, I would need to recuse myself. But this is not a jury or a trial - this is a Congressional oversight matter. No matter our friendship, no matter that I have visited his home and that I have dined with him and that I know his grandchildren and have presented them with gifts, I have a responsibility to ensure that Simone Grimes, who has raised deeply troubling allegations against Director Watt, is heard before this Committee.

Today, Ms. Grimes will testify. While there are several ongoing investigations into this matter in addition to Ms. Grimes’ litigation against FHFA, I do not believe, given the seriousness of this issue, that the existence of these investigations and the pending lawsuit should prevent Ms. Grimes from testifying today. As I have stated, we must face the reality that women throughout all sectors feel that existing policies and procedures have worked against them and left them silenced when they have complaints about discrimination and harassment. Sexual harassment and discrimination are wrong and against the law. And so I and others on this Committee, including some of the women who have been anxious to deal with this whole issue of sexual harassment, have responded. And so, we have said yes, Ms. Grimes should be able to testify here today.

We have been witnessing a confirmation process in the Senate in which several women have come forth with grave accusations against Judge Kavanaugh, who has been nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court. That hearing is in process and that hearing is a travesty, and questions remain about whether all of the women who have made allegations will be allowed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I believe that we must listen to the claims of women who come forth with allegations of harassment, abuse, or misconduct.

With this Committee, my staff and Chairman Hensarling’s staff have worked together earlier this week to interview Ms. Grimes so that she may testify today regarding her allegations. Director Watt will also have the opportunity to address these questions.

With regard to the ongoing investigations into Ms. Grimes’ allegations, I would encourage both Director Watt and Ms. Grimes to cooperate fully.

With that, I will give back the balance of my time.


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