Fri April 21st, 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Jason Chaffetz — R — UT
This bill would make Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac subject to the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, which would make their records available to the public on request. The Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”) are government-sponsored enterprises (private corporations with federal charters that confer special privileges) that buy mortgages from lenders and either hold those mortgages in their portfolios or package the loans into mortgage-backed securities that may be sold. To stabilize the housing market in the aftershock of the financial crisis, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) used its authority in 2008 to place Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into its conservatorship. In conservatorship, the government takes control of a failing financial institution with the goal of returning it to financial health and stockholder control. Well into their eighth year in conservatorship, they have operated under government control for longer than initially expected. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA; 5 U.S.C. §552) allows any person—individual or corporate, citizen or not—to request and obtain existing, identifiable, and unpublished agency records on any topic. Pursuant to FOIA, the public has presumptive access to agency records unless the material falls within any of FOIA's nine categories of exception. Disputes over the release of records requested pursuant to FOIA can be appealed administratively, resolved through mediation, or heard in court.
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