The National Legislative Committee was formed to maintain the momentum from the Policy Conference. The NLC’s task is to do the background and heavy-lifting work necessary to move our mission and the bill forward.
IT’S TIME FOR AN END OF YEAR UPDATE ON THE NLC’S EFFORTS
VAREP is involved with the following Congressional initiatives in the 116th Congress. The 116th Congress will conclude on 18 December 2020 for the Senate and in the House, the 116th Congress will conclude on 11 December 2020. This list of legislative efforts will also include the successful legislation that has been either advancing through Congress or has in fact been signed into law.
VAREP VSO Charter Bill
S. #### & H.R. #### Veteran’s Association Of Real Estate Professionals, (VAREP) Incorporated
Rep. Lacy Clay (MO-D) / Rep. Ann Wagner (MO-R) / Senators Klobuchar (MN-D) Sinema (AZ-D)
S. 2835 Access to Affordable Housing for Veterans Act of 2019 which replaced H.R. 2777 Give Veterans Home Loan Choice Act 2018
Senator Jacky Rosen (NV-D)
S. #### Reducing Loan Fees For Certain Veterans Affected By Major Disasters
Senator Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-D) S.4656 – A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for a reduction in certain loan fees for certain veterans affected by major disasters.
Senator Mazie Hirono (HI-D) SUPPORTED BY VAREP S.4511 Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020
Senator Mazie Hirono (HI-D) S. 1986 Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2019
Senator Tim Kaine (VA-D) H. R. 3516 Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2019
Rep. Peters (CA-D), Adam Schiff (CA-D), Raul Grijalva (AZ-D), Jose Serrano (PR-D) & Ayanna Presley (MA-D)
VSO MISSION MAKING PROGRESS… WITH TEENY TINY BABY STEPS
VAREP VSO Charter Bill S. #### & H.R. #### Veteran’s Association Of Real Estate Professionals, (VAREP) Incorporated
The efforts to advance VAREP’s congressional charter essay VSO have been moving along rather slowly. Early in the year, before the congressional primary season, VAREP received confirmation from Congressman Lacy Clay, Missouri Democrat, that he and Congresswoman Anne Wagner, Missouri Republican, would take on the project of introducing legislative language, crafted by the NLC. The VSO Charter Bill, when passed by Congress and then signed into law, would make VAREP the 93rd congressionally chartered VSO (Veterans Service Organization).
Unfortunately, in the Missouri primary Congressman Clay was defeated by challenger Corie Bush. The November election in Missouri’s first Congressional District will indeed be interesting inasmuch as Miss Bush is running against not only Anthony Rogers A Republican but also Alex Fuhrman a Libertarian. Since there is no early voting in Missouri the election for the 1st Congressional District will be an interesting footrace among these three candidates. Unfortunately, because Congressman Clay lost his Congressional seat and due to the Corona virus totally interfering with the congressional calendar on Capitol Hill in both the house and the Senate, forward momentum has been extremely slow.
We had to give Congressman Clay an opportunity to try and finish this legislation. However even in doing so, the NLC head reached out to Representative Derek Kilmer who agreed to try to convince Representative Clay to let Rep. Kilmer take over this effort. However, that undertaking did not meet with any success. Representative Clay’s office committed to having our bill ready for introduction by or before December.
The effort in the Senate is committed by both Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Senator Amy Klobuchar. However, they are not poised to introduce our legislation until the house confirms they are ready to go. So for now the NLC Government Affairs Director’s will continue to engage and advocate support for VAREP’s VSO chartered status. Senator Mazie Hirono (HI-D) may end up being an enormous help as a piece of legislation that VAREP supported was passed in the Senate recently. On January 20th 2021 when the 117th Congress is sworn in, VAREP’s NLC will once again realign their efforts with the new Congress in the House.
WHERE WE LEFT OFF AND WHERE WE ARE HEADING S. 2835 Access to Affordable Housing for Veterans Act of 2019 which replaced H.R. 2777 Give Veterans Home Loan Choice Act 2018
On January 13th, 2020, Senator Jacky Rosen introduced Senate bill 2835, Access To Affordable Housing For Veterans Act. This piece of legislation was a redo of the original H.R. 2777. Initially the legislation had not been configured correctly in as much as the initial language, crafted late in 2019, did not include a very important element that centered on the reconfigured and misconfigured URLA.
It took several months for VAREP to convince Senator Rosen’s staff of language that would force FHFA Director Mark Calabria to reconfigure that URLA to its original configuration where in the veteran applicant would be asked the military service question well in advance of completing the loan application process.
As you are all aware, FHFA Director Calabria moved our military service question from Page 1 to the bottom of the URLA, not only to the bottom of the URLA but actually, below the signature line of the application. Positioning the signature above the military question put the veteran applicant in a very unfair position and the transparency of the VA Home Loan application process becomes non-existent and in fact extinguishes transparency of the process for the VA Home Loan Buyer.
Nevertheless we successfully convinced an encouraged Senator Rosen’s staff to add the language to S. 2835 thus when the bill passes and is signed into law FHFA Director Calabria will be forced to put the military question, not only above the signature line, but hopefully back to Page 1 where it originally was configured when VAREP worked with Director Mel Watt’s FHFA.
COVID-19 AND THE MESS THIS VIRUS CONTINUES TO INFLICT ON CAPITOL HILL AND IN DEED THE NATION
A final footnote to all legislative efforts that have been underway in 2020. As we are all aware the Corona virus has been nothing but a thorn in our behind and indeed a thorn in the backside of all legislative activity on the Hill.
In nearly every congressional office that I have had an interaction with over the past eight months, the beginning and the ending of each conversation goes something like this, “We are truly supportive of your mission and your legislative advocacy however COVID-19 is preempting nearly every piece of legislation.”
All of VAREP’s efforts continue to lend credibility to the mission as we continue the VAREP goal of becoming recognized as an accredited VSO (Veteran’s Service Organization). VAREP NLC continues to take on the legislative project to have Titles 10 and 38 USC amended and to include adding VAREP as the 93rd accredited Chartered VSO.
VAREP NLC will continue to work vigorously to advance the mission of VAREP. As the Director of the National Legislative Committee, I thank you for entrusting this very important mission to our team. I would like to recognize the three new NLC team members, Nacho Castro, Victoria Blass Esq. and Michael Hamilton. They all bring unique qualifications to the team.
I would also like to acknowledge the great contributions from the outgoing NLC team members, Gary Johnson, Jim Shields and Carol Meyer. Without their support and commitment, the VAREP NLC could not have been as effective as we have been.
Stay Safe! Stay Healthy! #IAmVAREP
G-II Varrato II is the VAREP National Legislative Committee Director