House to Lose Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell Opponent, Bank Supporter to Obama AdminMay 7, 2009 - by Conor Kenny
Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) was nominated by President Obama late Wednesday to be his Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, where she will head efforts to secure and reduce nuclear stockpiles, which she has called her “passion.”
Tauscher’s move may be felt more acutely in the House, however, where she has been the driving force behind two recent legislative initiatives.
Earlier this year she sponsored a bill to end the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy on gay and lesbian soldiers serving in the military. As her OpenCongress profile documents, Tauscher has sponsored several versions of the legislation in the past, but this incarnation has been one of the most prominent to date. It is unclear who will take up the mantle with her departure from Congress and the chairmanship of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.
Tauscher also drew headlines earlier this year as the leader of an effort in the House to temper the so-called “cramdown” provisions of the homeowner rescue bill winding its way through Congress. Cramdown would allow bankruptcy judges to reduce the outstanding principal and the interest rates on the mortgages of people facing foreclosure.
Tauscher, with the full support of the mortgage industry, tempered the original language to restrict judges and allow the lender to make their own offer to reduce interest rates, preventing the judge from making the determination.
By the time the bill found its way to the floor of the Senate, it no longer contained any cramdown language whatsoever, following reportedly intense “negotiations” between the banks and Congress (one can guess at what the banks were offering in the deal, but that part of the process wasn’t exactly transparent). This prompted the Senate’s cramdown champion, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to comment:
And the banks – hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created – are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.
Versions of the bill have now been passed by both the House and Senate, but there’s a long way to final passage.