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Barney Frank prevails in mortgage amendment showdown with Michele Bachmann

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Michele Bachmann went head to head with Finance Chairman Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., on the House floor today – and lost — over a portion of a home mortgage bill that would withhold federal funding from organizations or individuals that have been indicted for voter fraud.

Bachmann had successfully added the language on a voice vote during markup last week of the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, which the House will vote on today.

Soon after, however, Frank admitted that he had made a mistake in allowing it to pass. His amendment would change the language to prohibit funding from organizations that have been convicted of voter fraud, or continue to employ individuals convicted of voter fraud.

A short time ago, the House approved Frank’s amendment on a largely party-line vote 245 to 176.

In a statement released after the vote, Bachmann said that she was “disappointed,” adding, “This is a shameful abdication of our fiduciary duties.”

Earlier in the day during his floor debate with Bachmann, Frank said he wanted to uphold “an important principle of American law. That indictment should not be the cause of serious penalty, that people should be continued to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

“I offered a straightforward amendment,” Bachmann countered, adding that Frank’s amendment “strips down language in the bill designed to keep tax dollars from falling into the hands of organizations indicted for voter fraud or its related crimes.”

Bachmann added that her addition to the bill “should sound familiar to everyone here in this chamber because it is the exact same language that was passed” last year.

Indeed, a 2008 version (PDF) of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act that the House passed last year sought to limit distribution of funds to “an organization which has been indicted for a violation under Federal Law relating to an election for Federal office; or an organization which employs applicable individuals.”

At the time, Frank voted for the bill.

On Thursday, he apologized for allowing the language to slip through.

“Apparently, it was in an earlier bill,” Frank said. “If it was, it shouldn’t have been, and I apologize.”
This didn’t mean, however, that he was giving up this particular fight.

Bachmann, who already indicated that she intended the language to prevent organizations like ACORN from receiving money, went on to mention charges against the group in Nevada and Pennsylvania.

“Not only is it legitimate for Congress to decide the threshold for accessing taxpayer funds,” Bachmann said. “It is incumbent on this body to do so in our fiduciary capacity to the taxpayers of this great country.”

Nevada authorities filed criminal charges Monday against ACORN and two former employees for allegedly paying canvassers illegally to sign up new voters.

Meanwhile, seven ACORN volunteers in Pennsylvania were recently charged with voter registration fraud, including forgery and falsification of voter records.

ACORN did not immediately respond.

In the end, Bachmann reduced her argument to this: “We are on the people’s side or we are on ACORN’s side.”

But Frank flatly rejected this premise.

“The gentlewoman I think inaccurately says are you for ACORN or the American people,” Frank said.

“This bill says nothing about ACORN. What I think the amendment says is this: Are you for the principle of American justice.”

After pausing to request that Bachmann stop interrupting him, Frank said, “There ought to be a bright line between penalties for indictment and fraud convictions.”

“The gentlewomen from Minnesota said, ‘Do we want to provide funding for people who employ people who are under investigation? Yes. I don’t want to live in a society where the mere institution of an investigation by any prosecutor anywhere shuts down lawful activities.”

Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Terry Hayes on 05/07/2009 - 03:18 pm.

    I sure hope they show this on C-span tonight.
    Frank vs. Bachmann. No contest. Please God…please let them have it on C-span tonight! This is my one prayer on this holy day of National Prayer. Please let me see Barney Frank teach Bachmann a little bit about how her job SHOULD be done.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/07/2009 - 03:24 pm.

    Gracious God! Save us from this fascist tool, Mickey Bachmann and all her mistaken, misguided, cohort who have been misled into evil by your enemies! (“Not everyone who says Lord, Lord, will enter the reign of heaven, but only the one who does the will of God.” [Matthew 7:21])

    (and what law school did she attend where she was allowed to graduate lacking a basic understanding of the necessity of “innocent until proven guilty” in all aspects of our government? Can they retroactively withdraw her degree in the same way Norm Coleman wants to uncount some of the votes cast in the state of Minnesota race for U.S. Senate?)

  3. Submitted by John Roach on 05/07/2009 - 05:14 pm.

    Bachmann is just grandstanding. Her base is extremely radicalized. They lost Congress and the White House by large margins and lack the self awareness to truly understand why.

    So, they invent reasons–like ACORN. Today’s GOP is the party of delusion and failed ideas, and Bachmann is one of their leading spokesnuts.

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/07/2009 - 05:31 pm.

    Rep. Bachmann knew that Barney would have no choice other than come to the rescue of such a valuable part of the Democrat machine, and Barney did not dissapoint.

    But now he is on public record as having been the protector of not only the two biggest causes of the meltdown of our economy (Freddie and Fannie), but of a group that perpetuated what a US attorney described as “the worst case of voter fraud in the history of Washington (state).”

    Today, on national television, Bachmann led Frank to the court of public opinion by his ear, but more importantly, she is keeping ACORN front and center to the attention of the American public.

    BTW, does anyone remember the hue and cry that arose from the left when it was suggested that ACORN would be dipping it’s greasy palms into Obama’s cash hurricane?

    What are we now hearing from them?


  5. Submitted by Terry Hayes on 05/07/2009 - 08:00 pm.

    Hey, Mr. Swift, who is the U.S. attorney who said this about ACORN? Was it one that Bush fired for not persecuting Democrats enough? And speaking of voting irregularities…does the name Diebold ring a bell? You might want to drop your phony outrage over ACORN and check out for information on who really sabotaged fair elections in this country.

  6. Submitted by Joe Johnson on 05/07/2009 - 09:32 pm.

    Barney thanks for reading bills prior to voting yes on them. Yet another instance of the most incompetent individual in congress. Thanks Boston.

  7. Submitted by Eva Young on 05/07/2009 - 09:39 pm.

    Does Michele Bachmann hold the same positions about federal funding for groups that employee, or have felon leaders such as Chuck Colson (Prison Fellowship Ministries), and Frank Vennes (only recently disaccociated from Minnesota Teen Challenge).

  8. Submitted by Jim Harvey on 05/08/2009 - 08:01 am.

    Boy the Kool-Aid drinkers reign supreme here!!! Frank, Dodd and the ACORN types are one of the major reasons we have this economic mess in the first places. Michelle Bachmann is everything you Kool-Aid drinkers hate. But she’s trying to protect this country from malcontents. This country is Great. There are exits on all four sides if you don’t thing so.

  9. Submitted by david granneman on 05/08/2009 - 10:05 am.

    senator frank and acorn are largely responsible for our current economic situation
    acorn sponsered demonstations in front of banks. they bussed protesters to the homes of bank presidents to force them to give subprime loans to people who where clearly unqualified to pay them back. as a young lawyer president obama represented acorn in lawsuits forcing backs to make bad loans. it is ironic we elected one of the persons who helped cause the problem to fix the problem. the fact that dumb, crazy, loony michele bachmann was able to outfox barney frank is a testement to his incompentense. barney frank and senator dodd where responsible for allowing fannie and freddie to continue to give bad loans even after many economists sited how dangerous this was to our economy.
    instead of venting your anger towards michele bachman, why dont you blame the real people affecting your lives.
    michele bachmann is not punishing your children with decades of never ending debt and higher taxes
    michele bachmann is not going to give you a government run health care, just like cuba
    michele bachmann is not growing the government at the expense of the private sector.
    michele bachmann does not want to take away your right to own a gun, or your right to listen talk shows on radio.
    machele bachmann is not going to give you a cap and trade tax. this tax will raise the cost of almost everything we require for living. worst yet it will cost millions of jobs to go overseas.
    michele bachman is not standing in the way of developing our own natural resources which would bring good high paying jobs and prosperity.
    minnesota better wake up and put your money where it will make a difference

  10. Submitted by John Roach on 05/08/2009 - 01:02 pm.

    Hello Mr. Granneman,

    Recycling your posts is a very efficient way to “publish”:

    As a suggestion, you may want to consider running it through a spell checker before you post it again. I won’t burden this thread with a point by point rebuttal of your post, since they can read it on that previous thread if they wish to.

  11. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/10/2009 - 07:27 pm.

    Terry Hayes wondered “Hey, Mr. Swift, who is the U.S. attorney who said this about ACORN?

    Turns out, I was mistaken. While there was a US Attorney present, that quote came from Washington’s Secretary of State:

    “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the worst case of voter-registration fraud in the history of the state of Washington. There has been nothing comparable to this,” state Secretary of State Sam Reed said at a news conference with Satterberg, King County Executive Ron Sims and Acting U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan.”

    Little wonder you couldn’t find it, the story came from a legitimate newspaper, not a leftist rantblog.

    Terry incautiously continued “And speaking of voting irregularities…does the name Diebold ring a bell? You might want to drop your phony outrage over ACORN and check out for information on who really sabotaged fair elections in this country.”

    My outrage over ACORN is quite genuine, I assure you, Terry. Reasonable people, of any political stripe, are outraged when our democratic process is defrauded in any way; much less on the scale, and with the sheer callousness that ACORN has been committing it.

    I am unaware that any indictments have been handed down against Diebold alleging campaign fraud. If you have a link for a legitimate news source, I’d be grateful if you’d share it. “Bradblog”? Not so much, but thanks.

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