2:35 PM EDT

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-FL 20th

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the subject of this bipartisan Special Order on the subject of breast cancer awareness.

2:35 PM EDT

Earl Blumenauer, D-OR 3rd

Mr. BLUMENAUER. In addition, I, along with Ways and Means Ranking [Page: H10551]

Member Camp, have asked the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation to make available to the public a technical explanation of the bill. The technical explanation expresses the committee's understanding and legislative intent behind this important legislation. It is available on the Joint Committee Web site at www.jct.gov, and is listed under the document number JCX-3909.

Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. H.R. 3590, the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act, is about basic fairness for those who serve our country. In June of this year, a constituent contacted me regarding an issue of great concern to his family because they had purchased a home in my district, with the first-time homeowner tax credit. Yet, because of a temporary USAID Foreign Service assignment overseas, they must repay the credit.

This constituent eloquently expressed his frustration and asked my office to help him and the thousands of Foreign Service families like him. The next month I introduced the Call to Service Homebuyer tax credit to protect families in the Foreign Service, intelligence community and military who serve our country away from home. I would note that my friend and colleague, Congressman Kind from Wisconsin, has been working on similar legislation focused on the military, and I deeply appreciate

his partnership and coordination in working together to move this expeditiously, and of course that of the Ways and Means leadership, Chairman Rangel, Ranking Member Camp and the Ways and Means staff.

Currently, the credit provides up to $8,000 towards the purchase of a home through November 30 of this year, provided that the home is the primary residence for 36 months afterward. The program has been so successful that the National Association of Realtors estimates that almost 2 million families will file for the credit, and that approximately 350,000 wouldn't have been able to purchase a home without it. But for all its popularity, the credit is inaccessible to many Americans, who, like my

constituents and Congressman Kind's, are serving in the military, Foreign Service or intelligence sector. These occupations obviously often require time served abroad, rendering a 36-month commitment to a domestic residence difficult and, in some cases, impossible.

Even now there are hundreds of thousands of men and women who are overseas serving our country on bases and embassies and other posts away from family, friends and community, often in very hazardous circumstances. Those serving our government should not have to choose between their job and their home. This bill protects those called to service, now or in the future, by waiving the recapture time for duty away from home. It also gives a second chance for those who served away from home in 2009

by extending the credit for 1 year. I strongly urge my colleagues to support the legislation.

I reserve the balance of my time.

2:39 PM EDT

Dave Camp, R-MI 4th

Mr. CAMP. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. Since September 11, American military, diplomatic and intelligence personnel have seen extended and recurring deployments in support of contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. These brave Americans have answered the call and, at the drop of a hat, gone off to defend this great Nation in a most consequential time. This House and the American people are extremely grateful for their courage and sacrifice.

Today, as we rotate personnel home from Iraq and contemplate increasing force levels in Afghanistan, Congress can ease the transition for those in uniform by ensuring existing homeownership tax incentives are flexible for their circumstances. This bill does that. It modifies the existing first-time homebuyer tax credit to make it fairer for military and diplomatic families deploying overseas or returning home who, under the way the current credit is written, may be unable to take advantage. These

provisions are based heavily on language included in bills that many, including my colleague from Louisiana, Charles Boustany, and from North Carolina, Walter Jones, have championed for some time.

The bill also helps military families relocating as part of the Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, process. As DOD has transformed its base infrastructure, many service families have had difficulty selling homes adjacent to military installations because of declining values and an unprecedented slowdown in the housing market. In the stimulus bill, Congress provided relief in the form of a one-time funding increase for DOD's homeowners assistance program, which provides housing payments to

these military families to help with relocation. H.R. 3590 clarifies that military families will not be taxed on these additional benefits.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, this is a good bill, and I'm proud to lend my support to it today. I'm hopeful the Senate will quickly approve the legislation so the President can sign it into law. We owe our men and women in uniform, as well as the families that support them, nothing less.

I reserve the balance of my time.

2:41 PM EDT

Earl Blumenauer, D-OR 3rd

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to recognize the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Tanner), the distinguished Chair of the Social Security Subcommittee of Ways and Means, for 2 minutes.

2:41 PM EDT

John Tanner, D-TN 8th

Mr. TANNER. Mr. Speaker, the bill has been explained. May I just simply say this is a bill that is completely bipartisan and, more importantly, or as importantly, fully paid for. It protects the Foreign Service officers, the military and the intelligence community members who may have been ordered or otherwise sent from their homes under the Homebuyers Act, and it protects their rights thereunder. Important. It should be done. They are risking not only their lives, but often, many times their

liberties.

And so I want to thank everyone who's worked on this bill. Mr. Camp, thank you, and others, for bringing to the floor a bipartisan, paid-for bill that will protect the rights of the Homebuyers Act of our Foreign Service officers, our military, and the intelligence community.

2:42 PM EDT

Dave Camp, R-MI 4th

Mr. CAMP. At this time I yield 2 minutes to a distinguished member of the Ways and Means Committee, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ginny Brown-Waite).

2:42 PM EDT

Ginny Brown-Waite, R-FL 5th

Ms. GINNY BROWN-WAITE of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 3590, the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009.

The first-time homebuyer credit gives qualifying consumers a tax refund of up to $8,000 when buying a primary residence. So far, over 1.4 million Americans have taken advantage of this credit. However, the men and women serving in our Nation's Armed Forces are largely unable to take advantage of this credit. Why? Because the current law requires consumers who utilize the first-time homebuyers' tax credit to repay the credit if they move from the primary residence within 36 months of the closing.

This 3-year residency requirement disqualifies many military personnel from taking advantage of the tax credit.

Following the call of the military, armed services members regularly relocate duty stations, thus resulting in an immediate recapture of the credit. That's just not fair to our Armed Forces. Our military personnel, Foreign Service officers, intelligence agents and their families should not be penalized for required moving in service to our Nation. H.R. 3590 eliminates the inequities in the first-time homebuyers tax credit by waiving the 36-month requirement for servicemembers, Foreign Service

officers, and intelligence agents who must sell their homes in connection with Federal orders relating to official extended duty.

With over 116,000 veterans living in my district, I'm keenly aware of issues that are of interest to our military servicemembers. While we can never do enough to thank our men and women in uniform for their service, the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009 is one way that we can demonstrate America's commitment to our troops while they are serving.

I thank my colleague from New York, Mr. Rangel, for introducing this bill. And I'm proud to cosponsor it, and I urge its support. Hopefully the Senate will act in an expeditious manner so that we can truly make sure that this tax benefit extends to our servicemembers.

2:45 PM EDT

Ron Kind, D-WI 3rd

Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3590, and thank my colleague and friend from Oregon, Mr. Blumenauer, not only for yielding me the time but for the work that he has put into this important piece of legislation. I also want to thank Chairman Rangel and Ranking Member Camp and the other members of the Ways and Means Committee, and the bipartisan support that this legislation has in Congress today. It is the right thing to do for our men and women

in uniform.

As my colleague from Tennessee also indicated, Mr. Tanner, it is completely paid for. So it will not add a nickel to our national deficit. And it incorporates a number of very important proposals, including legislation that I had introduced earlier this year with a number of my colleagues to ensure that the men and women who are serving our country abroad are eligible for all the benefits and the opportunities that would be available to them as if they were stationed here in the United

States instead of being deployed abroad in a conflict situation where they can't take advantage of these programs because of their deployment.

[Time: (1:44]

This sort of equity is the bare minimum that we should extend to these patriotic servicemembers, many of whom are serving us very bravely in very dangerous missions.

Earlier this year, Congress took an important step to rejuvenating the housing market and helping middle class families buy their first home by modifying and extending the First-Time Homebuyer Credit. This important provision provides first-time homebuyers with an $8,000 tax credit for homes purchased before November 31, 2009. Unfortunately, again, with our servicemembers serving overseas, they haven't been able to take advantage of that credit.

Earlier this year, I was joined by my colleague and friend from Wisconsin (Mr. Kagen) along with Representatives Sam Johnson and Charles Boustany, to introduce H.R. 2562, the Service Members Home Ownership Act. All that did was extend the opportunity for our servicemen and -women who are serving us abroad by 1 year the opportunity to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer $8,000 tax credit.

And with the work that Mr. Blumenauer did and his focus on extending that to Foreign Servicemembers deployed overseas and members of our intelligence community, these provisions are reflected in this legislation today.

I do want to thank Chairman Rangel and others on the committee for understanding the basic equity that's enshrined in this legislation and also for clarifying the tax treatment of the Homeowner's Assistance Program, a program that is administered by the Department of Defense that was expanded in the American Recovery Act that makes it easier for certain members of the military to sell their homes as a result of their service to their country. The passage of this bill today will make

sure that this assistance is not taxed as income.

I think these are very simple steps, steps that are necessary and fair to our servicemen and -women, including the largest call-up of National Guard members since World War II in the State of Wisconsin, who are serving us so very well overseas right now under trying and difficult circumstances. But the men and women who put their lives on the line for us every day deserve this kind of treatment from their government.

So I support the legislation, and I strongly encourage the rest of my colleagues to do so.

2:49 PM EDT

Walter B. Jones Jr., R-NC 3rd

Mr. JONES. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you and both sides for bringing this legislation to the floor today, the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act. I got a call last January from a wife of a marine. The marine had been to Iraq twice. And she called me and said, Congressman, we cannot participate in this fine program that's been presented by the Congress of the United States. She said, My husband is getting ready to go back for his third tour. Is there something you can do to help our family?

I went ahead and wrote a letter to Mr. Rangel and asked him to please, as this session started, to please consider making this necessary change so that our military and their families could take part in this wonderful program of first-time buyers where they get a benefit of $8,000.

I want to say to the lady, thank you for the service that you and your husband are giving to this country. And to all those in uniform, thank you for your service. And for those that might benefit from this wonderful bill that's on the floor today, and the families that will benefit, I say to both sides, the Democrats and the Republicans, Mr. Rangel, Mr. Camp, and all the members of Ways and Means, thank you for bringing this bill to the floor of the House.

2:51 PM EDT

Bill Pascrell Jr., D-NJ 8th

Mr. PASCRELL. Thank you, my friend, Mr. Blumenauer. I stand before you to discuss H.R. 3590, the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009. I want to congratulate Mr. Rangel, Mr. Camp, Mr. Blumenauer. This body stands tallest when we work together for our servicemembers. It really reflects the dignity of this body.

And I say this emphatically, that Mr. Rangel and Mr. Camp are always there, not only because they have a deep affection for their country, but because they have a deep connection with our service folks who defend us every day. This is the least we can do.

This legislation would extend the first-time homebuyer credit, the time limit by 1 year, for our military members serving outside the United States in 2009. The extension would allow servicemembers currently serving overseas to take advantage of an important tax credit offered to all citizens by the Recovery Act.

Our legislation would protect servicemembers from having to repay the credit if they are called up for service overseas and forced to sell their home within 3 years of purchasing.

Think of this, Mr. Speaker: this bill comes at a time when our servicemembers are challenged with the dual strain of war and economic strife. Taking care of the responsibilities in Iraq and Afghanistan and trying to take care of familial needs--just imagine, just imagine that stress.

The first-time homebuyer credit has already provided tax benefits to a million and a half families. Congress should do everything we can to ensure our servicemembers are also able to take full advantage of the programs we enact to benefit all Americans. And they need to know about it. We have an obligation to communicate to our service folks and our veterans what is available out there, because I think in the past 8 years we have surpassed in attempting to reach out to them so that they know

what their benefits are.

I hope this bill sees swift passage in the House and the Senate. It's the right thing to do, Mr. Speaker.

2:53 PM EDT

Bob Etheridge, D-NC 2nd

Mr. ETHERIDGE. I thank Mr. Blumenauer for yielding. Let me thank Mr. Rangel and the ranking member for their work on the committee, and all the members who have worked on it. I'm a proud cosponsor of H.R. 3590.

My congressional district includes Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base and is home to thousands of our brave military men and women, many of whom have been subject to multiple deployments, as well as the 30th Heavy Brigade National Guard Units, who are currently serving their second tour in Iraq.

This bill makes sure that servicemembers are able to take full advantages of the benefits available to all Americans, and I commend all of my colleagues who have worked on this and made a difference.

Under H.R. 3590, personnel overseas would have an extra year to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer tax credit. As an Army veteran myself, I understand that military members are subject to orders that may require them to uproot their homes and their [Page: H10553]

families, move to another base, or even be shipped overseas with just a short notice. This bill would allow folks to keep the tax credit even if they have to sell their homes due to military relocations

within 3 years of their home's purchase.

The first-time homebuyers tax credit has helped more, as you have already heard today, more than a million and a half homeowners. While the sluggish housing industry has been in a very difficult time, it's helped stimulate it. So let's help extend this successful provision to those Americans who are sacrificing so much for all of us.

Mr. Speaker, we've already heard today that this bill is paid for. It is bipartisan. It deserves not only our total support, but our trust that the Senate will move quickly and send it to the President of the United States for his signature.

2:56 PM EDT

Steve Kagen M.D., D-WI 8th

Mr. KAGEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3590. I wish to compliment Mr. Camp, Mr. Blumenauer, and everyone who's had a contribution to making this a very good bill. It's about teamwork. It's about making certain that our soldiers, our service men and women, have the support they need before, during, and after they've been deployed. And certainly everyone here would agree that our service men and women shouldn't be punished for going overseas to serve our Nation

anyplace, let alone Iraq or Afghanistan.

In April of this year I received a telephone call from the Kavanaugh family. Jerry in Kaukauna called up to say he was concerned his son might not be able to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer tax credit of nearly $8,000. He wouldn't be able to take advantage of this because he was being deployed once more overseas.

Well, I think it's time to work together. We came up with a bill with Ron Kind to address this issue, and it has been improved upon by the Ways and Means Committee.

Over 1.4 million people have already taken advantage of the First-Time HomeBuyer Act, and now it's a great opportunity for all service men and women to consider coming home and taking advantage of this opportunity to solidify not just their own home but the housing market here across the country.

I wish to honor all service men and women who have served overseas. I wish to thank as well Chairman Rangel; Representatives Boustany and Johnson, who also worked with me on preparing legislation that has been morphed into this act.

Again, I thank you for the hard work and teamwork to mend our Nation and make certain our service men and women are made whole when they return.

2:58 PM EDT

Shelley Berkley, D-NV 1st

Ms. BERKLEY. I thank the gentleman for the recognition. I rise in support of this important piece of legislation. This bill would ensure that members of the U.S. military, the Foreign Service, or the intelligence community who are deployed overseas are not penalized by the requirement to repay the first-time homebuyer tax credit.

For those who have been stationed abroad for at least 90 days this year, it would also provide an additional year to qualify for the first-time homebuyer tax credit. This would include the 1st Squadron, 221st Cavalry out of Las Vegas, Nevada, and the 1st Battalion of the 168th Medevac Unit of the Nevada National Guard. Both are deployed overseas in Afghanistan on behalf of their Nation.

The brave men and women who selflessly serve this country should not be penalized because of their commitment to our Nation. This legislation ensures that they do not miss out on the important housing tax benefit.

I encourage my colleagues to support the passage of this bill.

2:59 PM EDT

Earl Blumenauer, D-OR 3rd

Mr. BLUMENAUER. I would express my appreciation to Mr. Camp and his team for helping move this legislation through in a bipartisan and expeditious fashion.

I would conclude, Mr. Speaker, by saying you have heard today strong testimony from people on both sides of the aisle why this legislation is important. Over the course of the last 6 months I've had an opportunity to make it personal in terms of Oregonians: people in the Peace Corps, in the Foreign Service in Swaziland, in China, in Mozambique, who are posted overseas but for whom their roots are still here. We want to make sure that it makes a difference for them.

Likewise, in Oregon we have significant deployment of our 41st Brigade of the Oregon National Guard who will be serving in Iraq and scheduled to not return until the spring of 2010. It's personal for all of these people.

[Time: 15:00]

It's a pleasure to see the rapid response to respond to the needs of these Americans serving abroad.

I note that this legislation is endorsed by The American Legion, the Military Officers Association of America, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Realtors, the National Military Family Association and Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

I strongly urge my colleagues to add their support to this bill and give the men and women who serve our country the same opportunity as other Americans to own a home.

3:00 PM EDT

Earl Blumenauer, D-OR 3rd

Mr. BLUMENAUER. I would express my appreciation to Mr. Camp and his team for helping move this legislation through in a bipartisan and expeditious fashion.

I would conclude, Mr. Speaker, by saying you have heard today strong testimony from people on both sides of the aisle why this legislation is important. Over the course of the last 6 months I've had an opportunity to make it personal in terms of Oregonians: people in the Peace Corps, in the Foreign Service in Swaziland, in China, in Mozambique, who are posted overseas but for whom their roots are still here. We want to make sure that it makes a difference for them.

Likewise, in Oregon we have significant deployment of our 41st Brigade of the Oregon National Guard who will be serving in Iraq and scheduled to not return until the spring of 2010. It's personal for all of these people.

[Time: 15:00]

It's a pleasure to see the rapid response to respond to the needs of these Americans serving abroad.

I note that this legislation is endorsed by The American Legion, the Military Officers Association of America, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Realtors, the National Military Family Association and Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

I strongly urge my colleagues to add their support to this bill and give the men and women who serve our country the same opportunity as other Americans to own a home.

3:00 PM EDT

Earl Blumenauer, D-OR 3rd

Mr. BLUMENAUER. I would express my appreciation to Mr. Camp and his team for helping move this legislation through in a bipartisan and expeditious fashion.

I would conclude, Mr. Speaker, by saying you have heard today strong testimony from people on both sides of the aisle why this legislation is important. Over the course of the last 6 months I've had an opportunity to make it personal in terms of Oregonians: people in the Peace Corps, in the Foreign Service in Swaziland, in China, in Mozambique, who are posted overseas but for whom their roots are still here. We want to make sure that it makes a difference for them.

Likewise, in Oregon we have significant deployment of our 41st Brigade of the Oregon National Guard who will be serving in Iraq and scheduled to not return until the spring of 2010. It's personal for all of these people.

[Time: 15:00]

It's a pleasure to see the rapid response to respond to the needs of these Americans serving abroad.

I note that this legislation is endorsed by The American Legion, the Military Officers Association of America, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Realtors, the National Military Family Association and Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

I strongly urge my colleagues to add their support to this bill and give the men and women who serve our country the same opportunity as other Americans to own a home.