(Senate - November 13, 2018)

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[Pages S6927-S6928]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


      By Mr. HATCH (for himself and Mr. Kaine):
  S. 3612. A bill to amend the Fair Housing Act to prohibit 
discrimination based on source of income or veteran status; to the 
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
  Mr. KAINE. Mr. President. Today, I am pleased to join my colleague 
from Utah, Senator Orrin Hatch, to introduce the Fair Housing 
Improvement Act of 2018. This legislation would advance our nation in 
its long pursuit of achieving equal protection under the law and 
protecting all Americans from discrimination. This bill would prohibit 
housing discrimination based on source of income or veterans status and 
give millions and families and veterans greater access to affordable 
housing and economic mobility.
  Many of you know I'm a former civil rights attorney. My practice 
focused on fair housing and I witnessed the pain experienced by 
families who were discriminated against as they searched for a home. 
Today, veterans who are good tenants with supportive housing vouchers 
can be turned down for an apartment or lease renewal because of how 
they pay their rent. Housing decisions should be based on your merits, 
not harmful stereotypes about those who receive housing assistance. If 
you pass a screening and background check, you shouldn't be denied a 
place to live because of your service record or how your rent will be 
paid. Unfortunately, this happens in America every day and it is wrong.
  This legislation has support from organizations focused on affordable 
housing and helping those who have served find a place to live, 
including National Fair Housing Alliance, National Housing Law Project, 
National Low Income Housing Coalition, Paralyzed Veterans of America, 
and Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals. Many of my 
colleagues in this chamber strongly support the housing vouchers that 
help 2.2 million veterans and low-income households live in decent, 
stable private market housing. I've said previously that your home is 
critical to your identity and central to the life of every American. I 
want to share a story about two of my constituents that illustrates the 
need for this bill.
  Rudolph Nanez is a Navy veteran who lives in Virginia Beach with his 
wife, Jessica Youness. Rudolph moved to the United States from Spain as 
a teenager and earned a high school diploma. He joined the Navy and 
served three years on active duty, followed by several years in the 
reserves. Three years ago, Rudolph and Jessica faced a housing crisis 
and feared they would have to live on the street after temporarily 
relocating to a hotel. Fortunately, with the assistance of local 
Virginia nonprofits, they were able to find a home.
  In September, Rudolph's wife Jessica contacted my office after they 
received an abrupt notice that their lease would not be renewed and 
they had to leave their home within 10 days, despite paying a portion 
of their rent regularly through a supportive housing voucher for 
veterans, known as HUD-VASH. Jessica was frustrated because, as she 
said, it takes time to find an apartment that will accept these 
vouchers. She couldn't understand why, after calling multiple apartment 
management companies to find an available unit, she then had to explain 
to the company representative what a supportive housing voucher was.
  Rudolph and Jessica each have a disability and rely on public 
transportation. It was challenging to find housing near a bus stop and 
they needed time to save for a deposit on a new home. My office was 
able to work with the property manager to get Rudolph and Jessica's 
lease extended through next June.
  This story had a happy ending. But it didn't have to come to this 
point. More than a dozen states and over 70 local jurisdictions have 
enacted laws to prohibit source of income discrimination in housing, 
and it's time Congress did the same.
      By Mr. REED (for himself, Mr. Perdue, Ms. Heitkamp, Mr. Tillis, 
        Mr. Jones, and Mr. Kennedy):
  S. 3614. A bill to amend the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to 
require proxy advisory firms to register as investment advisers under 
that Act, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Banking, Housing, 
and Urban Affairs.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, today I am joined by Senators Perdue, 
Heitkamp, Tillis, and Jones in introducing the bipartisan Corporate 
Governance Fairness Act to ensure investors can continue to rely with 
confidence on the advice of proxy advisory firms by requiring the 
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to regulate all major proxy 
advisory firms under the Investment Advisers Act (IAA). This advice is 
critical for investors as they decide how to vote their shares on 
important corporate governance matters, such as director elections or 
whether to sell the company.
  Indeed, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has stated that 
the ``independence of the research provided by proxy advisors is a 
critical element of our right, as shareholders, to hold the board of 
directors accountable and to cast informed proxy votes on corporate 
governance and proxy voting policies.'' According to the Council of 
Institutional Investors, ``ensuring unencumbered shareholder access to 
independent research is a crucial underpinning of effective corporate 
governance.'' And the National Association of State Treasurers has 
emphasized the need to ``maintain the integrity and efficacy of the 
relationship between institutional investors and proxy advisory 
firms.'' In short, proxy advisory firms are clearly an essential tool 
for investors.
  Given the importance that investors have placed on continued access 
to proxy advisory firms, it is critical that proxy advisory firms are 
appropriately regulated and held accountable, and this is the purpose 
of the bipartisan Corporate Governance Fairness Act. Under our 
legislation, all major proxy

[[Page S6928]]

advisory firms would be required to register as investment advisers 
under the IAA, and therefore have a fiduciary duty to their clients. So 
as to not discourage new entrants into the proxy advisory business, our 
bill provides smaller proxy advisory firms the choice to voluntarily 
register under the IAA but does not require them to do so. The 
legislation also directs the SEC to conduct periodic examinations, 
which must include a serious review of the conflicts of interest 
policies of registered proxy advisory firms and whether firms knowingly 
made false statements to any of its clients. Lastly, our bill requires 
the SEC to consult with all relevant stakeholders and report back 
periodically to the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial 
Services Committee with recommendations for any additional investor 
protections beyond continued access to proxy advisory firms so that 
investors have the tools to make informed investment decisions and 
exercise their rights as shareholders. In short, the Congressional 
intent of this legislation is to preserve the critical role played by 
proxy advisory firms and to hold them accountable to investors.
  I would like to thank Senators Perdue, Heitkamp, Tillis, and Jones 
for working with me in crafting this bipartisan legislation, which is 
supported by the Consumer Federation of America, Harvard Law School 
Securities Regulation Professor John Coates, who is also a member of 
the SEC Investor Advisory Committee, the New York Stock Exchange, and 
the Society for Corporate Governance. I urge all of our Senate 
colleagues to join us in working to pass the Corporate Governance 
Fairness Act.