UPDATE: Action on Rep. Barney Frank’s effort to undo Rep. Michele Bachmann’s amendment has been put off until Thursday.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a letter sent to Democrats Tuesday, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., sought support for an amendment he will be offering on the House floor today to alter language that Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., added to a home mortgage bill last week.
During markup of the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2009, Bachmann successfully offered an amendment on voice vote that would prohibit funding in the bill from going to organizations or individuals that have been indicted for voter fraud.
“In the case of the current bill, we had very nearly finished the markup when we broke for votes on the floor. When we returned, I was eager to get the markup completed, because I had promised the Majority Leader that we would have the bill ready before action this Thursday – as it now is,” Frank wrote to his colleagues in explanation. “In my haste, I agreed to two last Republican amendments, only one of which I should have accepted. The other, which I read too hastily, was from Rep. Michele Bachmann. It calls for the debarment from housing counseling funds for any organization which employs people who have been “indicted” for election fraud …”
“There is of course a major difference between people being indicted for such action and being convicted. I apologize for the fact that I did not note that the amendment applied to organizations which had even one employee who had been indicted.”
Last week, Bachmann made it clear that she had intended her amendment to prohibit ACORN from receiving funds. At the time, the organization clarified to MinnPost and other news groups that it had never been indicted for voter fraud.
In an op-ed article, Bachmann indicated that she opposes Frank’s proposed changes, which, she said, “eviscerate the meaning of the amendment.”
In his letter to Democrats, however, Frank stressed that Bachmann’s use of the word “indictment” is “not only a violation of the fundamental principle of American justice that a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, but also, in fact, an invitation for political mischief for opponents of some of these organizations.
“What Rep. Bachmann’s amendment does, in the form in which I unfortunately agreed to it, is to give any prosecutor anywhere in the country the power to knock an organization out of the funding stream, no matter how good and useful it is, simply by indicting any one of its employees. No showing of any likelihood of conviction is required. In fact, an indictment which is allowed to languish and not brought to trial would have the effect of denying funds to organizations which the local officials support,” Frank wrote.
Check back later today for updates.