Opinion

Applause for freshman Heck

Most aspiring professional baseball players dream of hitting a home run on their first at-bat in the big leagues, but it’s rarely accomplished. New 10th District Congressman Rep. Denny Heck achieved the political equivalent with his first bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Heck’s introduced his first bill, the Reverse Mortgage Stabilization Act of 2013, and it passed the House on a bipartisan unanimous vote. It was co-sponsored by a Pennsylvania Republican colleague.

The bill’s success prompted Heck to say “It’s still possible to get things done in Washington, D.C. if you’re willing to reach across the aisle and focus on the substance of issues.” We love the wide-eyed optimism of a freshman legislator.

Heck’s bill is a good one. It authorizes the Federal Housing Administration to reform the reverse mortgage program in a way that stabilizes the program. This will benefit seniors, who make wide use of reverse mortgages to fund their retirement.

A downturn in property values during the recession intensified losses in the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program, and the FHA lacked the authority to move quickly enough to sustain it over the long-term.

First-time congressmen, especially those of the minority party, rarely get their bills to House floor, and almost never get them passed unanimously.

It was a heckuva achievement.

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