What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Consumer Protection : (H.R. 1728) Frank of Massachusetts amendment eliminating language in the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act prohibiting housing counseling funds being awarded to any organization in which an employee had been indicted for Federal election or voter fraud (2009 house Roll Call 238)
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(H.R. 1728) Frank of Massachusetts amendment eliminating language in the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act prohibiting housing counseling funds being awarded to any organization in which an employee had been indicted for Federal election or voter fraud
house Roll Call 238     May 07, 2009
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a vote on an amendment to the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, offered by Rep. Frank (D-MA). The amendment eliminated language in the bill that prohibited housing counseling funds from being awarded to any organization in which an employee had been indicted for Federal election or voter fraud. Frank said the targeted language had erroneously been inserted because there was no recognition that it penalized an organization that had been “indicted”, but not convicted. He noted that the change would “vindicate an important principle of American law that indictment should not be a cause of serious penalty, that people should continue to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Rep. Bachmann (R-MN) opposed the amendment because it “strips down language in the bill designed to keep tax dollars from falling into the hands of organizations indicted for voter fraud or its related crimes.” She referred to a specific organization that both represents mortgage borrowers and also has had accusations of voter fraud made against it and said: (T)he stories of their indictments for voter fraud for violating their tax status for voter registration improprieties abound. Grand juries across the Nation have found them and their employees lacking. Yet we continue to funnel millions of dollars to their coffers. . . Can't this body do something about this? How many felony charges does it take . . . ? Congress isn't the arbitrator of guilt or innocence. Congress does decide to spend the people's money.” She disagreed with Rep. Frank that the amendment was about due process and said it was really “about our duty as stewards of the taxpayers' dollar . . . .”

Rep. Frank responded by first noting that, under the bill, conviction, rather than indictment, would prevent an organization from receiving housing counseling funds. He went on to argue that, without the amendment, “a single indictment of any individual by any prosecutor for any organization anywhere in America” would prevent it from receiving these funds and “(I) think we have seen enough of prosecutorial misconduct (and) I want to now repudiate the notion that the action of a single prosecutor who may be politically motivated to indict anybody anywhere for election fraud, disables that organization . . . .”

The Frank Amendment was approved by a vote of 246-176, along almost straight party lines. All 245 “aye” votes were cast by Democrats.  Four other Democrats and one hundred and seventy-two Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the amendment passed and the language preventing any organization that was indicted for voter fraud from receiving funds under the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act was eliminated.

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