U.S. Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK) and John Thune (R-SD) have introduced SB 2054, the Stop the Outrageous Pay (STOP) at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Act, and act which prevents the distribution of undisbursed bonus money and moves all Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac employees onto a structured pay scale similar to that of other federal financial regulators. The Begich-Thune bill follows a series of events from November of 2011, when reports surfaced that the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) approved nearly $13 million in bonus pay for 10 executives at Fannie and Freddie. In response, Sens. Begich and Thune spearheaded a bi-partisan letter, signed by a total of 60 senators, to FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner expressing outrage over the excessive pay.
"Our goal is to make sure the reckless and outrageous bonuses issued to Fannie and Freddie execs last year are never repeated and remain a history lesson on abuse of taxpayer money," Sen. Begich said. "The two agencies have received over $150 billion in taxpayer funds since 2008, and those executives should not be living like fat cats while many Alaskans and other Americans are struggling to pay their bills, send their kids to college, and make the mortgage payment."
The Begich-Thune STOP Act suspends the current compensation packages of Fannie and Freddie executives and limits the pay for all employees. Specifically, SB 2054:
►Places all employees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the pay scale used by the federal financial regulators such as the FDIC and the SEC, as established by the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) of 1989. Under this pay scale, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac employees would be prohibited from being paid more than employees of other federal financial regulatory agencies (currently capped at $275,000 annually);
►Prevents any future pay or bonus payments for 2011 and beyond that are in excess of this new pay cap and that have not yet been disbursed. These funds would be used to pay down the national debt; and
►Requires the FHFA to make Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac salary disbursements data available to Congress and the public without compromising the privacy of individual employees.
Original co-sponsors for the STOP Act include Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Hoeven (R-ND), Scott Brown (R-MA), and Mike Enzi (R-WY).
"It is unbelievable that Congress needs to step in and end these outrageous salaries for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives," said Sen. Thune. "The American taxpayers have already bailed out these agencies to the tune of over $150 billion and should not be on the hook for millions of dollars in exorbitant salaries."
The House Financial Services Committee passed similar legislation to suspend the bonuses and limit future compensation packages by a vote of 52-4 on Nov. 15, 2011.