A Cup of Coffee with…Congressman Don Manzullo

Cup-manufacturedhomepronews1)      Who, What and Where: (Your name, and your title, District and Party Affiliation in Congress and how it that relates to manufactured housing).

U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo, Republican, Illinois’ 16th Congressional District. We have a number of manufactured home communities and residences in our district.

2)      Background: (Educational/Professional background before entering Congress.)

Education – Bachelor’s Degree from American University, Law Degree from Marquette University. I was an attorney in private practice in Oregon, IL before I was elected to Congress in 1992. 

3)      When and How: (When and how you began your political and Congressional career.)

I was always fascinated by law and government, and pledged at a young age that I would become an attorney and then a Member of Congress. I worked for Congressman John B. Anderson in the late 1960s when I was attending American University in Washington, DC. I was leading a successful private law practice when I first ran for Congress in 1990. I lost the first election but came back to win in 1992.

4) HR 3849 is on the minds of many of the roughly 250,000 Americans who own a business in manufactured housing (MH) or who work in our industry. As a co-sponsor of HR 3849, please give us your perspectives on it.  Tell us why this is important to MH businesses and the roughly 20 million Americans who live in manufactured homes.

The SAFE Act needlessly complicates the manufactured home mortgage process much in the same manner that RESPA would have harmed the overall home buying process. I fought RESPA because it tried to unnecessarily fix something that wasn’t broken. I am a cosponsor of HR 3849 because it exempts manufactured housing from the arduous SAFE Act requirements, which will only make it more difficult for someone to buy a manufactured home.

5) As you know, some 75% of all loans in manufactured housing are personal property or ‘chattel’ loans, according to a recent survey by the Census Bureau. While all home lending is important, clearly personal property lending is the life blood of manufactured housing at this time. In spite of what HERA 2008 called for – namely, the Duty to Serve manufactured housing, first the GSE and now the FHFA have failed to implement what the law seems to require.  Yet the housing/finance crisis occurred in the conventional housing sector, not in the manufactured housing sector. 5 private lenders have proven this sort of personal property lending can be done successfully.  With this in mind, what are your views on the GSEs, FHFA and the Duty to Serve provisions from HERA 2008?  Do you think that Congress intended, as the language of the law indicates, that the GSEs – and thus FHFA – should in fact be providing a secondary market for personal property loans?

Manufacturing, including jobs related to manufactured housing, is the lifeblood of the Congressional District I represent in northern Illinois. And I firmly believe that the housing bust was a leading factor in the economic recession we are still experiencing.  Through my position on the House Committee on Financial Services, I have highlighted private housing options as a potential solution to the downturn of the GSEs.

6) There are concerns over changes in the composition of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC), there being no national associations represented; neither MHI or MHARR.  Some believe these and other changes undercut the very purpose of the MHCC as established by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA 2000) and as it relates as a regulatory check on HUD.  Your comments or perspectives on the independence of the MHCC and related with HUD, please?

As with all federal advisory committees, I believe it’s important that the government listens to all stakeholders and I would agree it’s troubling if the MHCC is not being used for its intended purpose.  However, none of my constituents have contacted me about this specific issue, so I cannot speak from experience.

7) As a Republican, you no doubt want your party’s standard bearers, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, to re-win the White House in November.  You’ve clearly demonstrated on manufactured housing issues that you are willing to work with members of both parties.  Regardless of who wins the White House and who controls the House and Senate, what are your views on working with members of the other major political party?

Bipartisanship is extremely important to getting things done in Washington, DC. And believe it or not, quite a bit of bipartisanship exists – people don’t see it too much, because the media tends to focus on the partisan battles.

For me, some of my greatest victories involved Members from the other party. In my first term, I teamed up with Congressman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, to do something no one thought could be done – amend the Clean Air Act. But we did it, and we did it in bipartisan fashion. Today, I co-chair the active Manufacturing Caucus with my friend Congressman Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat, and I have authored several bills with my Democratic colleagues.

8) Congressman Paul Ryan has called our times one of “debt, despair and doubt” facing America.  Former President Clinton famously said the “era of big government is over.”  Do you believe – as President Bill Clinton has said – that we must have smarter government that works with business to create jobs?  Do we need to control spending and reign in debt, as Democratic President Clinton and Republicans in the House and Senate did in the 90s?  Or as Ronald Reagan and Democrats in Congress did during the 1980s?

Our debt has surpassed an incredible $16 trillion and continues to grow rapidly. We must cut spending and start paying down the debt to have any hope of improving our economy and creating jobs. More than anything, Americans need jobs. And the biggest job killer we face on the horizon is higher taxes. President Obama has targeted our job creators – America’s small business owners – for huge tax increases next year. We will never get out of this recession and help put Americans back to work if we keep increasing the cost of doing business in America.

9)  You got edged out in a tough, close race with Adam Kinzinger, R-IL, due to re-districting.  What are you plans?  Will you be seeking other forms of public service, or will the tug of the private sector draw you?

I still have three months left on my term, and we will be returning to session the week after the election in November. My current job is serving the 720,000 people of Illinois’ 16th Congressional District, and that’s where my focus is right now.

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