Casey: Passage of Wall Street Reform a Major Step for Consumers

WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today applauded final passage of bipartisan legislation to bring more transparency and accountability to Wall Street.  The legislation now goes to the president’s desk for signature.

“This is a major victory to bring more transparency and accountability to Wall Street for the types of risky behavior that helped cause the recession and massive job loss.  This bill takes significant steps to have the rules favor consumers and not Wall Street.

“Consumer protections will be greatly expanded, a watchdog will be created to put consumers first and loopholes in oversight will be closed.  The Wall Street reform bill also brings more scrutiny and safeguards to the largely unregulated $600 trillion derivatives market.

“I am disappointed that political obstruction has delayed final passage of these needed reforms for months.  The American people expect fast action to address the problems facing our country, not political posturing, delays and obstruction.”

Senator Casey included provisions in the final bill to increase funding for foreclosure mitigation, protect pension funds and provide more oversight for property appraisals.  

Senator Casey introduced an amendment during the Senate debate on the bill to provide additional funding to help keep workers who lost their jobs in their homes and to help stabilize the housing market.  The final bill included $2 billion in foreclosure mitigation funds to the Department of Housing and Urban Development -- $1 billion for an Emergency Homeowners Relief Fund and $1 billion to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.  Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) led the effort in the House to provide this funding.

Senator Casey worked with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) to make sure that the Wall Street reform legislation adequately protects pension funds, counties and municipalities. Municipalities and pension funds in Pennsylvania have incurred massive losses in the swap markets.  That is why Senator Casey worked to clarify the language in the bill to ensure such entities are protected.

Senator Casey also worked with Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) to include increased oversight of property appraisals.  Inflated property values from inaccurate appraisals were one of the factors that contributed to the housing bubble.

Specifically, the appraisal language would:

•    Create enforceable Federal appraisal independence standards with tough penalties.  
•    Provide the Appraisal Subcommittee of the interagency Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council with a consumer protection mandate and enhance its ability to monitor the performance of State appraisal oversight agencies.  
•    Strengthen appraiser licensing and education standards, and establish a Federal grant program to the States.
•    A GAO study on the effectiveness and impact of appraisal methods, the Home Valuation Code of Conduct and the Appraisal Subcommittee.