With Election Day behind us, I wanted to reflect on the coming changes to Congress. I hope everyone got out to cast their ballot. Voting is a civic duty that I take very seriously. I spent fifteen hours on Election Day volunteering as an election judge at my precinct in Maryland to ensure the broadest possible access to voters of all political persuasions. It is so important to our democracy for citizens to stay engaged.
MBA has always worked hard to build relationships on both sides of the political aisle, and the election results further highlight the need to maintain that approach. As I said in my blog post after our Annual Convention last month, housing policy is bipartisan. It can also be quite nuanced, as we saw last year during tax reform. When the GOP tax plan passed the Senate Finance Committee last November, the bill contained a provision that would have required lenders that retain servicing to pay tax on their mortgage servicing rights (MSRs) at the time the MSR is created—not as the income is received, under current law. This change in tax accounting for MSRs would have had a devastating impact on the flow of capital that supports a robust and competitive real estate finance market. MBA jumped into action, and in addition to a surgical direct lobbying effort, we activated MBA’s Mortgage Action Alliance (MAA), generating more than 9,000 letters to Capitol Hill, and succeeded in obtaining an exclusion for mortgage servicing contracts in the final Senate bill and conference report.
Democratic control of the House and expanded Republican control of the Senate will make bipartisan consensus on commonsense legislation more important than ever. Among the issues Congress will need to address during the next two years are reauthorizing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, maintaining the critical role of FHA and other government housing programs, reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (assuming a long-term solution is not passed during the lame-duck session this fall), and housing finance reform. Finding workable, bipartisan solutions will be critical, and that is where MBA will focus its efforts in the 116th Congress.
The defeat of Proposition 10 in California highlights just one more reason why it’s so important to stay engaged with MBA advocacy efforts, such as our grass-roots advocacy through MAA. If passed, Prop 10 would have had a chilling effect on the ability of middle-class families to find affordable housing in what is already one of the nation’s most costly states for rental housing and homeownership. MAA issued several Calls to Action to its 27,000-member network, encouraging them to spread awareness about the harmful provisions that Prop 10 would bring to real estate markets across the state, and encouraged them to vote against the measure. Voters soundly rejected Prop 10 by more than 23 points.
In the days ahead, MBA will provide a deeper-dive analysis of the election results, including a webinar on November 14. The webinar will provide a comprehensive election recap, preview the lame-duck legislative session and leadership elections, and offer analysis about how the new dynamics on key committees will impact MBA priorities in the 116th Congress.
MBA is the most credible and trusted voice of the real estate finance industry in Washington. When Congress or the administration want to hear from housing policy experts, they call us. That won’t change when a new Congress comes to town next year. Housing will always be a fundamental part of the economy, and MBA will always be your voice here in Washington.