‘Housing is a Bipartisan Issue’

SAN FRANCISCO–The political climate in Washington, D.C., is unlike anything seen even in recent years. “You can’t make this stuff up,” said MBA Senior Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs Bill Killmer.

Speaking here at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Independent Mortgage Bankers Conference, Killmer said despite the bombast, regulatory and legislative changes are in the air that could have a tremendous impact on the real estate finance industry for years to come.

The new year brings new challenges to the real estate finance industry, Killmer said, noting the 2018 elections gave Democrats a solid majority in the House while Republicans gained two seats in the Senate. With so many new faces, he said, “there is an ongoing necessity to connect with, educate and persuade policymakers. They need to know what you do and we want to continue to make that easier for you.”

Killmer noted newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has wasted no time in staring down President Trump over the recent shutdown and in steering the House agenda away from impeachment talk in favor of an aggressive legislative agenda. “She’s been in these fights before and she’s very comfortable in the trenches,” he said.

The recent shutdown, Killmer said, put the spotlight back on the mortgage industry in how it provided assistance to federal workers and others affected. He noted that House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and legislators from districts with high concentrations of federal workers all sent letters to MBA asking how the industry responded. “They are watching us closely and looking at our actions,” he said.

Killmer said MBA expects a number of issues to have priority on Capitol Hill this year, including flood Insurance, noting that the National Flood Insurance Program could expire once again at the end of May; Consumer Financial Protection Bureau guidance; Ginnie Mae securitization and pooling; and self-employed mortgage access. On the regulatory side, Killmer said MBA will continue to work on reducing the regulatory footprint on mortgage lenders and servicers.

Looking ahead to the 2020 elections (already), Killmer said Congress could see increasing numbers of women and that Republicans will be on the defensive, particularly in the Senate where, in a reverse from 2018, they will have more Senate seats to defend (22) than Democrats (12). And with it being a presidential election year, he added, “everyone” is running for President.

“This will give us opportunities to determine the housing agenda,” Killmer said. “Housing is a bipartisan issue.”