106th Congress will have new look when it convenes When the 106th Congress convenes in January, some familiar faces will be missing, and others will be in new places.
The biggest personnel change affecting housing legislation was the defeat of Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.), who was beaten in his bid for a fourth term by Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
D'Amato's place as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee will be taken by Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas). Gramm has been a vocal critic of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which encourages financial institutions to put money into low-income communities in their service areas.
Gramm's views on CRA could be an important factor in determining whether Congress is finally able to enact broad legislation to remove many of the old Glass-Steagall barriers to consolidation of the finance industry. He helped scuttle a financial institutions bill last year because it would have expanded CRA.
Two other incumbent senators who went down to defeat were also Banking Committee members, Republican Lauch Faircloth of North Carolina and Democrat Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois. Faircloth was a harsh critic of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), at one time calling for the elimination of the department.
Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) will return as chairman of the House Banking Committee, and Rep. Rick A. Lazio (R-N.Y.) is expected to continue as chairman of the housing subcommittee.
On the Democratic side, John J. Lafalce of New York will replace the retiring Henry B. Gonzalez of Texas as ranking minority member of the full committee.
There will also be a change in personnel, but not in philosophy, in the top Democratic spot on the housing subcommittee, with one Massachusetts liberal, Barney Frank, replacing another, Joseph P. Kennedy II, who is leaving Congress.
When it comes to providing money for housing programs, Rep. James T. Walsh (R-N.Y.) will be the new man in charge of the VA/HUD appropriations subcommittee. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-N.Y.) is vacating that spot to become chairman of the national security subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over defense spending. Rep. Louis Stokes (D-Ohio), the ranking Democrat on the VA/HUD panel, is retiring and may be succeeded by Alan B. Mollohan of West Virginia.
D'Amato's defeat could also have an impact on housing- related tax legislation, since he was the Senate's leading advocate for an increase in the $1.25 per capita limit on the low-income housing tax credit.
Tax credit supporters also lost one of their top House boosters as well, when Rep. John Ensign (R-Nev.) gave up his seat for an unsuccessful Senate bid. However, Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.), another tax credit supporter, will be back.
In addition to financial institutions and tax legislation, the unfinished business of the 105th Congress included bankruptcy reform. A House-passed bill would have removed the $4 million debt limit on single-asset real estate bankruptcies, but the measure died in the Senate. The issue is likely to be revived in the new Congress.
HUD will fund major fair housing audit HUD Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo has announced plans for a $7.5 million nationwide investigation of discrimination in housing sales, rentals and mortgage lending.
The investigation will involve 3,000 to 5,000 tests for discrimination in urban, suburban and rural communities, using African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans as testers.
"This historic audit will help us fight housing discrimination more effectively," Cuomo says. "By determining the extent and scope of housing discrimination in greater detail than ever before, the audit will help us give all American families the opportunity to exercise their legal right to move into any neighborhood and any home they can afford."
The department will select one or more organizations to conduct the audit, with support from a panel of experts from all sectors of the housing market. A final report on the audit is due in a year.
Defeats, retirements give new look to 106th Congress Senate Banking Committee:
* Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.), beaten by Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), to be replaced by Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) as chairman
* Members Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R-N.C.) and Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) defeated
House Banking Committee: * Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) returns as chairman
* Rep. John J. Lafalce (D-N.Y.) to replace retiring Henry B. Gonzalez (D-Texas) as ranking minority member
* Rep. Rick A. Lazio (R-N.Y.) expected to continue as chairman of housing subcommittee
* Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to replace Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-Mass.) on housing subcommittee
* Rep. James T. Walsh (R-N.Y.) to head VA/HUD appropriations subcommittee, replacing Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-N.Y.)
* Rep. Louis Stokes (D-Ohio) retiring from VA/HUD panel