This weekend, I spoke on free trade at the Club for Growth’s annual meeting in Palm Beach this weekend. At dinner last night, I heard an amazing story from Steve King, a Republican congressman from Iowa. I was amazed at two levels: (1) the story itself and (2) the fact that he was not amazed.
King is a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Recently, the Committee has been meeting about the “cram down” bill, a proposed law that would give the power to judges in bankruptcy meetings to alter the terms of people’s mortgages. King, realizing that the bill is likely to pass, was trying to minimize the harm it would do. So he offered an amendment that would prevent anyone from taking advantage of this special deal if he/she had engaged in any material misrepresentation during the original mortgage process. His amendment passed by a vote of 21-3.
But later the staff of the Committee, who report to Chairman John Conyers, altered the amendment, after it had been voted on, to state that no one could take advantage of the special deal if he/she had been convicted of fraud. Of course, there’s a huge difference. What they voted for is very different from the language that the staffers substituted without the permission of those who voted.
I was shocked. I asked King if there was anything he could do about this dishonest behavior on the part of Conyers’s staffers. He said that there wasn’t.
A reader to the above blog questioned how this could be possible, everything on the thomas.loc.gov site shows the exact markups King described, no other changes.
Congressman King responded:
Your research is correct as is David’s characterization from our dinner conversation. The Judiciary Committee staff changed the language and coupled the “Cram Down” legislation, which passed the Judiciary Committee, with two of Barney Frank’s bills.
The bill then got a new number. That’s why you can’t track it on Thomas. Technically, they can bring a bill directly to the floor without committee action. This was an arrogant contemptuous action that disenfranchised 21 Members of the Judiciary Committee and every, bill paying, law abiding American.
In response, I challenged Chariman Conyers before the full committee, brought my amendment back to the Rules Committee twice, and went to the floor to speak several times. Mostly there is just no response from them. They know they’re wrong. They have the votes to beat us fair and square every day. They cheat because it’s easier.
King’s amendment makes complete sense. If your gonna give a judge the power to rewrite mortgages during a bankruptcy then at least ensure that the initial loan application was true and correct and there was no misrepresentation. Instead the Democrats, who understand they have the majority and have no desire for compromise, trashed the amendment. They understand they need those liars votes also.
Those liar loans isn’t the whole story either. This amendment was altered AFTER 21 committee members voted for it and forwarded it to the house by Conyers which gives the false view that those 21 members actually voted for Conyers version, not Kings.
This is the new age of Obama apparently.