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house Bill H.R. 1694

Should the Freedom of Information Act Apply to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

Argument in favor

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac played a contributing role in causing the financial crisis, and as long as the federal government is controlling their finances after taking them over public records laws should apply to them.

Ellen's Opinion
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04/24/2017
Any company under government sponsorship should be required to comply with Freedom of Information requests unless there is a justifiable reason not to, such as national security. Transparency in government is important and should apply here as well.
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Matt's Opinion
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04/24/2017
More transparency and public oversight after the financial crisis that devastated millions of people without any justice for those who caused the catastrophe is a hopeful idea.
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jbs4115's Opinion
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04/24/2017
Any government sponsored company is an extension of the government and should hold to the same standards.
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Argument opposed

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government-sponsored enterprises, not federal agencies, so the Freedom of Information Act shouldn’t apply to them. Besides, this is just a way of scapegoating them for the financial crisis.

Judith's Opinion
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04/24/2017
I trust NOTHING Jason Chaffetz proposes, period.
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Julia's Opinion
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04/24/2017
The idea as a whole sounds promising, but just having these two specific institutions listed seems unjust. Shouldn't every bank/financial institution with government involvement be monitored this way? It seems as thought they are setting just Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to fail, while other institutions go unscathed.
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Rachel's Opinion
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04/27/2017
I'm saying this as one of Jason Chaffetz's constituents: I trust nothing that he has his hands on.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house Passed April 27th, 2017
    Roll Call Vote 425 Yea / 0 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedMarch 23rd, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 1694?

This bill would apply the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) as long as those government-sponsored enterprises have their finances controlled by the federal government. Once the bill is enacted, FOIA requests could be made for any Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac record.

Impact

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; people who request their records; and the federal government.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1694

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: This legislation passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on a voice vote and has the support of 11 cosponsors in the House, all of whom are Republicans.


Of Note: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken over by the government (i.e. put into conservatorship of the U.S. Treasury) in September 2008. It was one of the many financial events spawned by the ongoing mortgage crisis.

At the outset, GSEs were created to help fulfill the goal of expanding home ownership. While the financial markets accepted this premise, they also assumed that the GSEs would be bailed out by the taxpayer if turmoil hit the housing market because they were fulfilling a government mandate. They felt safe in this view because the FHA insured mortgages with down payments ranging from 3% to 20%, and the Community Reinvestment Act was loosening lending standards.

This arrangement had worked until mortgages in the MBS started to go into default. When mortgage payments stopped being made, the MBS plummeted in value — leaving banks and GSEs in a dire financial situation. Fannie & Freddie had to be bailed out by taxpayers to the tune of $187 billion during the 2008 financial crisis. The FDIC had to close 465 banks between 2008-2012, and the Treasury doled out billions of dollars in bailouts to banks that were close to bankruptcy.

Fannie & Freddie have been able to repay their bailout over the nearly 6 years since the government took them over, however, their future remains uncertain. The GSEs regulator requested plans in 2012 to put them into receivership and liquidate them as ordinary contingency planning.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Senator Mark Warner / Creative Commons)

AKA

Fannie and Freddie Open Records Act of 2017

Official Title

To require additional entities to be subject to the requirements of section 552 of title 5, United States Code (commonly referred to as the Freedom of Information Act), and for other purposes.

    Any company under government sponsorship should be required to comply with Freedom of Information requests unless there is a justifiable reason not to, such as national security. Transparency in government is important and should apply here as well.
    Like (124)
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    I trust NOTHING Jason Chaffetz proposes, period.
    Like (196)
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    The idea as a whole sounds promising, but just having these two specific institutions listed seems unjust. Shouldn't every bank/financial institution with government involvement be monitored this way? It seems as thought they are setting just Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to fail, while other institutions go unscathed.
    Like (110)
    Follow
    Share
    I'm saying this as one of Jason Chaffetz's constituents: I trust nothing that he has his hands on.
    Like (73)
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    All or none. Don't target one to support your hidden motives.
    Like (62)
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    Don't vote yes on this unless the bill includes ALL financial institutions with government involvement. This is a targeted attack on low-income lending.
    Like (58)
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    More transparency and public oversight after the financial crisis that devastated millions of people without any justice for those who caused the catastrophe is a hopeful idea.
    Like (49)
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    Any government sponsored company is an extension of the government and should hold to the same standards.
    Like (45)
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    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the scapegoat- as secondary mortgage lenders - for the unscrupulous, predatory and risky mortgage loan products marketed to the American people by private banks and other lenders in the primary market. These private lenders have not been held accountable for the fraudulent practices they engaged in that allowed millions of financially unsophisticated and unqualified buyers to enter the housing market, creating an unsustainable bubble. Why is there not a demand for oversight of private secondary lenders, who also contributed to the housing bubble? It was the private lending side that engaged in political rhetoric against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ..... accusing them of unfair advantage in "cherry picking" the mortgages they purchased in the secondary market, applying political pressure in defamatory ways that had catastrophic repercussions. The housing meltdown was largely a private lender disaster, created and perpetuated largely by shady private lending practices in both the primary and secondary markets. Responsible lenders, private and quasi-governmental like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, homeowners and the rest of the economy were caught in the vortex. How is it that the Wall Street firms that received massive infusions of government money during the crisis are not under the same oversight as Fannie and Freddie?Few people know Fannie and Freddie were among the first to pay back the government following the crisis.
    Like (33)
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    Just these two lenders? The ones that provide loans to low-income folks? Nope. ALL lenders should be targeted.
    Like (25)
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    All lenders should be subject to this not just these two.
    Like (20)
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    As long as our Federal Government has it's thumb in both Fannie and Freddie, then openness should be available to we taxpayers. Besides, didn't these two quasi government corporations send the U.S. into the last "great" depression via bundled mortgages? Lax lending standards contributing to high levels of developed country household debt and real-estate bubbles that have since burst; U.S. government housing policies; and limited regulation of non-depository financial institutions. Judy a quick overview.
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    As a Utah resident, No matter what words Jason says, they cannot be trusted. Something bad will come of this.
    Like (17)
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    Fannie and Freddie have been convenient, if not exactly accurate, scapegoats for the financial crisis. Let's not extend this fraudulent scapegoating any further. We have more than enough information as to what happened, why, how and by whom, and Fannie and Freddie don't feature particularly high on that list. If we're truly concerned about the financial crisis, why are we also once again seeking to deregulate the banks and financial institutions that actually did do the real damage? Why weren't actual responsible senior management individuals punished for actual crimes? And why are we racing to that down the (already too flimsy) walls of Dodd Frank that at least attempt to prevent a recurrence of that financial crisis? Plus, hasn't Mr. Chaffetz already got a full plate with rather urgent investigations he should be carrying out right now? Or is his impending move to the private sector already too close? I think we've had rather enough of Mr. Chaffetz's 'unique' approach to investigation and 'truth seeking' already. He doesn't need this new toy to play with as he heads out the door.
    Like (15)
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    Since both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been in receivership and were bailed out by the Federal government, there should be an exception to the usual practice of viewing them as non-governmental agencies. They gave up the right to that status when they had to be bailed out, even though they have repaid their loans. The American people deserve to know and have access to the information about the many mortgages handled by these agencies to determine where and how problems with these agencies occurred and how those can be corrected. The Fannie & Freddie Open Records Act of 2017 would allow taxpayers to make Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests while the entities are in conservatorship under the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The Open Government DATA Act gives taxpayers access to federal data, in non-proprietary formats. It would make all government data in an open, machine-readable format to be published on data.gov. The Federal Reserve Transparency Act would allow the Government Accountability Office to conduct audits of the Fed’s deliberations of monetary policy and its interactions with foreign banks and countries. All of these bills are intended to provide more transparency to the American people who were affected by the failure of these agencies to perform when the financial crisis hit.
    Like (15)
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    All or none! I agree with a lot of the posts I'm reading. Don't target just one and make them a scapegoat! Target all.
    Like (13)
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    This would appear to serve as a sneaky way to throw these GSEs under the bus for the financial crisis while giving cover to repeal regulations on private banks. If you want them under FOIA, all major banks should also be under FOIA rules as well.
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    This will be interesting since the shareholders of Freddy and Fanny have a lawsuit of theft stating BHO for stealing their money to prop up his disastrous Obamacare. I vote yes, the shareholders deserve justice and the American ppl need the last administration exposed and held accountable.
    Like (10)
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    Accountability is desperately needed in everything the government touches.
    Like (7)
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    I agree with the majority. All should be included or none.
    Like (5)
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