In Memoriam: Charles Hensarling
As chairman, Jeb leads the Committee in its oversight and lawmaking roles on securities, insurance, banking, and housing. The Committee also oversees the work of the Federal Reserve, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and other financial services regulators.
Jeb's four main priorities are: providing relief from the crushing burden of Washington red tape; creating a sustainable housing finance system; ending too big to fail; and enacting more rigorous oversight of the Federal Reserve. During Jeb’s first year as chairman, the Committee pursued an aggressive schedule of hearings and legislation to advance this agenda with:
Jeb’s top priority continues to be fundamental housing reform because America cannot and will not have a truly healthy economy unless we have a healthy and sustainable housing finance system. It’s unconscionable that hardworking taxpayers have been forced to pay for the nearly $200 billion bailout for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It’s unfathomable that taxpayers remain on the hook for more than $5 trillion in mortgage guarantees (more than $42,000 per US household). And it unfair that under Dodd-Frank, Washington elites decide who can qualify for a mortgage and who cannot.
Jeb’s reform bill, the Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners (PATH) Act, offers an alternative vision that includes fundamental reforms that are essential to the development of a free market:
In July, the Financial Services Committee passed the PATH Act, which marked the first time that members of the House or Senate voted to terminate Freddie and Fannie and overhaul our nation’s mortgage finance system. In 2014, Jeb will continue to advance this policy priority.
The Washington red tape machine never sleeps. In fact, approximately 10 new final regulations are added every single day of the week. The administration's own numbers reveal that the cost of regulations in just one year under President Obama exceeded the cost of all rules during the entire first terms of Presidents Bush and Clinton – combined. Much of this red tape burden comes courtesy of the 2,300 page Dodd-Frank Act.
This bill stands as a monument to the arrogance and hubris of its authors in that its answer to incomprehensible complexity is yet more incompressible complexity. Perhaps the most glaring example of this is the benign-sounding Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – a positively Orwellian name because this agency gives one single bureaucrat the ability to functionally outlaw financial products if he decides that a product or service is "unfair" or "abusive" – regardless if Americans want it, understand it, and need it.
The Financial Services Committee passed 12 regulatory relief bills in 2013, each receiving overwhelming bipartisan support, despite last minute appeals from the Obama administration asking all Democrats to vote against them.
As Chairman, Jeb is committed to continuing his reform effort and to the ultimate repeal of Dodd-Frank.
2013 marked the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve Act. The Committee held five oversight hearings on the Federal Reserve and its conduct of monetary policy during 2013. In December, Jeb announced the "Federal Reserve Centennial Oversight Project," which will be an aggressive series of hearings during 2014 that will culminate with the development of legislation to reform how the nation's central bank operates.
This oversight project will examine a number of areas, including the Fed's multiple mandates; its role in the explosion of the national debt; the central bank's accountability and transparency; the Fed’s blurring of the lines between monetary and fiscal policy; and its role as lender of last resort.
Most Americans have never wanted to 'Occupy Wall Street', they just want to quit bailing it out. Instead of ending the "Too Big To Fail" phenomenon or its consequent bailouts, there is growing consensus that the Dodd-Frank Act actually codifies them into law.
Designating any firm "Too Big to Fail" is bad policy and worse economics. It causes the erosion of market discipline and risks further bailouts paid in full by hardworking Americans. Since the passage of Dodd-Frank, the big financial institutions have gotten bigger, the small financial institutions have become fewer, the taxpayer has become poorer, and credit allocation has become more political.
In 2013, the Committee held multiple hearings to shine a bright light on "Too Big To Fail," including the Committee's efforts on sustainable housing reform to end the largest taxpayer bailout ever – the nearly $200 billion to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Bailouts beget bailouts, and the most fundamental question is this: If we lose our ability to fail in America, then one day, won’t we also lose our ability to succeed? Under Jeb's leadership, this question has come to the center of the debate and he will continue that focus into 2014.
While his efforts as Financial Services Committee chairman occupied much of Jeb’s time in 2013, he continued to work to advance the conservative cause on other policy fronts.
As Americans began to experience the true impact of Obamacare firsthand, they understood why Republicans had fought so hard to repeal it.
With Obamacare's rollout in 2013, it became more and more clear that the American people would be forced to buy health insurance they didn’t want, at a price they can't afford from a website that didn't work. Fact checkers have called the president's claim that Americans could keep their insurance if they liked it, the "Lie of the Year." As an increasing number of Americans see their costs skyrocket and their ability to keep their preferred doctor slip away – they understand that broken promises are the foundation Obamacare is built on.
In 2013, Jeb championed numerous bills that repealed, defunded, and delayed this harmful law – while supporting a market-based alternative (HR 3121). Obamacare could likely be the defining issue for the 2014 elections, and it will continue to be a priority for Jeb and conservative Republicans.
U.S. agriculture policy continues to be a battle in the war for free-market principles. In 2013, Jeb continued to target the subsidies that millions of U.S. taxpayers shell out, including sugar subsidies that go to a few thousand sugar growers. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that taxpayers could pay out almost $240 million over the coming years while consumers pay as much as $3.5 billion more annually as a result of this subsidy. In 2013, Jeb was a vocal proponent of HR 693, which would have reformed this market-distorting, job-destroying policy – saying "it is shameful to think that every American pie has baked into it Soviet-style sugar".
The United States must continue to stand beside our friends and allies, doing whatever it takes to ensure that Iran is not able to gain nuclear weapons capability. That is why Jeb co-sponsored and voted in favor of the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act (HR 850). This bill, which passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support, broadened economic sanctions and tightened enforcement of existing sanctions on the Iranian regime. These stringent sanctions have provided leverage in dealing with Iran because they are having an impact. When the administration announced in November it was pursuing a deal with the Iranians, Jeb vocally expressed that the Iranian regime’s record of dishonesty with its nuclear program made it undeserving of the trust that the administration seemed to be placing in it.
As chairman, Jeb has instructed that a real-time display of the National Debt Clock run continuously at all Financial Services Committee hearings, serving as a constant and sobering reminder the very real threat facing our nation. A threat that must loom large over every debate.
In 2013, Jeb continued his efforts to work with other conservatives to rein in our nation's spending-driven debt crisis. Jeb has been part of a group of five conservative members – including Paul Ryan (R-WI), Tom Price (R-GA), Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) – who regularly meet to find ways to address the crushing debt our children face. Dubbed by some as the "Jedi Council," this group worked to develop conservative strategies to pressure Democratic and Republican leaders to take responsible steps with our nation's debt.
At the beginning of 2013, this group successfully advanced the "No Budget No Pay" bill that helped pressure Senate Democrats to offer their first budget in almost four years. These members also pushed House Republican leadership to lay down a more aggressive marker on the issue by passing a budget blueprint that balances in 10 years while saving our entitlements, like Social Security and Medicare, for future generations by addressing their unsustainable growth.
As we continue to address our nation's statutory debt limit, the administration continues to fear-monger on the issue using the threat of default to raise the limit with no strings attached. In 2013, the House, for the first time, passed HR 807, the Full Faith and Credit Act, which takes away the threat of default and assures global credit markets that their investments are guaranteed. Just as a family recognizes that paying their mortgage is a higher priority than paying for a Las Vegas vacation, the Full Faith and Credit Act recognizes that not all spending items in the budget are equal.
Jeb supports efforts to reform our broken immigration/border security system. However, he does not support any effort that amounts to an amnesty proposal that gives legal advantages to people who came here illegally and does not require them to go back to their country of origin.
The United States is a nation of immigrants and should remain so, but we are also a nation of laws. Jeb will not support any reform bill that does not increase beyond existing law the level of protection we have at our borders, nor require illegal immigrants to repay back taxes they owed for the time they illegally spent in America.
While Jeb is sympathetic to those who come here to work hard in order to feed their families, illegal immigration is a flagrant violation of our laws. It threatens our national security and is unfair to all those who worked diligently to become American citizens the right way. We need a properly-constructed guest worker program.
To build it, it must pass a four-point test:
As a life member of the National Rifle Association, Jeb is a firm believer in our right to bear arms.
Jeb has been working to protect the rights of all Americans — including the rights of the unborn. Human life is a precious commodity that in today’s society is often taken for granted. Jeb believes in his heart and mind that life begins at conception and is working to make abortion rarer in America. In addition to making our nation’s laws more family-friendly and ensuring the dignity of human life, we must work to change hearts and minds as well.
"...Scalise, Jordan, Price, Hensarling, and Ryan- are perhaps the five most influential conservatives in Congress..." - National Journal, Sept. 30, 2013