4:33 PM EST

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, I will urge the House to vote ``no'' so as to sustain the President's veto, and I would like to explain why it is important that we are taking this vote.

This bill has passed the House under suspension in each of the last three Congresses. It has been brought forward by our colleague from Alabama (Mr. Aderholt) each time. It requires courts to recognize duly performed out-of-State notarizations. As it was passing the Senate, reports began to surface regarding improper and possibly fraudulent documentation in foreclosure actions across the country.

Improperly performed notarizations were reportedly a major factor in circumventing the legal protections afforded to citizens in foreclosure--notarizations in the absence of the person signing the document or without that person's signature or sometimes even forged notary signatures.

So we are taking a fresh look at the notarization bill. There were concerns that it could have the unintended effect of facilitating improprieties in mortgage foreclosures and in other financial transactions as well in that a State could remove important protections from its notarization rules, and then the bill would effectively force other States to go along.

The President took the responsible course in refusing to sign this bill into law so that we could give it a careful and fresh examination in light of these concerns.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

4:35 PM EST

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, criticism of H.R. 3808 focuses on its potential application to the ongoing crisis in the foreclosure markets. News accounts have detailed stories of fraudulent activity involving affidavits used to rid banks of bad mortgage inventories. I support any effort to combat that activity, but this situation does not involve H.R. 3808.

The bill applies only to ``any lawful notarization made by a licensed notary public.'' There is nothing in its language that pertains to fraudulent acts of notarization. The bill advances the legitimate purposes of the Interstate Commerce Clause by ensuring that a lawfully notarized document from one State will be acknowledged by another State in an interstate legal proceeding.

The Courts Subcommittee conducted a hearing on this issue 4 years ago, and it learned of instances in which States rejected otherwise lawfully notarized documents, for petty reasons, from other States. For example, State A requires a notarized document to bear an ink stamp while State B requires a raised, embossed seal. They should be mutually recognized.

The legislative history of the bill and the text, itself, has nothing to do with fraudulent notarizations. We should override the veto and support the legitimate purpose of H.R. 3808.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

4:37 PM EST

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to just respond to my dear friend, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, by saying that what we are trying to do here is to prevent the possibility of sloppy, inaccurate, or fraudulent notarizations from creeping into the foreclosure process.

As we all know, many of the foreclosures have now been found to be legally defective because of many things, including, possibly, improper notarizations. With millions of people losing their homes, it really would be almost negligent for us to assume that notarizations coming from another State, which might be electronic, would not be fraudulent. I think caution is the better choice for the matter that is under discussion.

I reserve the balance of my time.

4:38 PM EST

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Alabama (Mr. Aderholt), who is the sponsor of this legislation.