This is Brad Miller. I'm a Democratic Member of Congress from North Carolina.
I am the lead co-sponsor of a bill to prohibit predatory mortgage lending, HR1182. Mel Watt, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Barney Frank, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, are the other two principal sponsors.
I read the diary the other day on predatory mortgage lending that began with David Sirota's discussion of the Ney-Kanjorski bill, and the 96 comments that the diary provoked. Some of the comments were kind of entertaining--how did you get from mortgage lending to marrying box turtles? The discussion of the prohibition on usury in the Book of Leviticus was also interesting, although a strict prohibition on lending for interest would be kind of hard to square with the demands of modern commerce. (I know, the real point of that discussion was how selective the right wing is in the biblical passages they apply to modern politics).
The Book of Leviticus may not quite describe predatory mortgage lending, but the lyrics of Woody Guthrie certainly do:
Now as through this world I ramble
I see lots of funny men
Some will rob you with a Six gun
And some with a fountain pen.
But as through your life you travel
As through your life you roam
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.
I recently spoke on the House floor about predatory mortgage lending in general and our bill in particular. The best source for information about predatory mortgage lending is probably the Center for Responsible Lending. CRL's website has a good comparison of the Ney-Kanjorski bill with the Miller-Watt-Frank bill.
We've got 37 co-sponsors on our bill, all Democrats, and there are 30 co-sponsors on the Ney-Kanjorski bill, 18 Republican.
The Financial Services Committee will have a hearing later this month on predatory lending, and the Committee may vote on the bills this year or next. Unlike the bankruptcy debate, the predatory lending issue is new to most members, Democrats and Republicans alike, and most have yet to take a position.
If we can't call more attention to the issue now, however, we'll get crushed. I welcome your thoughts on what we need to do and I'll keep you posted on developments here.