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[Congressional Record: November 19, 2002 (Extensions)]
[Page E2092-E2102]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr19no02-17]                         



 
                        TRIBUTE TO JOHN LaFALCE

                                 ______
                                 

                           HON. NANCY PELOSI

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, November 19, 2002

  Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to put in the Congressional 
Record the tremendous accomplishments of John LaFalce, who has served 
this body with such great distinction since 1974.
  In 1999, John steered the financial Services Act through Congress, 
which began the process of modernizing the financial services industry.
  And this year, his magnificent leadership brought about tough, 
comprehensive investor protections that will help preserve pensions for 
years to come.
  As this record attests, John LaFalce made a great deal of law during 
his outstanding career, without making a great deal of noise.
  I wish John and his family the very best, which is what he had given 
his fellow Americans day in and day out for nearly 30 years.

                      Congressman John J. LaFalce

       John J. LaFalce was first elected to the 94th Congress in 
     1974 and was re-elected to each succeeding Congress through 
     the 107th, serving his Western New York congressional 
     district for 28 years, from 1975-2002. He served as Chairman 
     of the House Small Business Committee from 1987-1994, and as 
     Ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee 
     from 1998-2002. He declined to seek re-election to the 108th 
     Congress.


                                Personal

       John LaFalce was born in Buffalo, New York, on October 6, 
     1939. He graduated from Public School 49 (1953), Canisius 
     High School (1957), Canisius College (1961), and Villanova 
     University School of Law in 1964. From 1965 to 1967, Rep. 
     LaFalce served in the United States Army during the Vietnam 
     era, leaving active duty with the rank of Captain.
       He returned from military service to practice law in 
     Western New York with the law firm of Jaeckle, Fleischman and 
     Mugel, and soon became active in public service. In 1970, he 
     ran successfully for the New York State Senate, and in 1972 
     was elected to the State Assembly.
       He is married to the former Patricia Fisher and they have 
     one son, Martin, now a senior at Georgetown University.


                         Congressional Service

       In 1974, at the age of 35, Rep. LaFalce became only the 
     second Democrat, and the first since 1912, to win election to 
     what was then the 36th Congressional District of New York. 
     During his career in the House of Representatives, he served 
     on both the Committee on Small Business and the Committee on 
     Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs (now the Committee on 
     Financial Services). In January 1987, he was elected by the 
     Democratic Caucus as Chairman of the Committee on Small 
     Business, thus becoming the first member of his class (those 
     elected in 1974) to chair a full, standing committee of the 
     House. Following the change in control of Congress in 1994, 
     he continued to play the key role as the Committee's Ranking 
     Democrat. In February 1998, he was elected the Ranking 
     Democrat on the Financial Services Committee and served in 
     that capacity through 2002.
       In Congressional Quarterly's Politics in America profile of 
     Rep. LaFalce, he was characterized as ``one of the smartest 
     members of Congress.'' A Buffalo News article referred to him 
     as ``a workhorse, not a showhorse.''


                LEGISLATIVE ACHIEVEMENTS AND ACTIVITIES

       As Ranking Democrat of the Banking Committee since 1998, 
     Rep. LaFalce became the point man for the Clinton 
     Administration on all financial economic issues, and 
     consistently demonstrated his leadership by initiating, 
     advocating and securing the enactment of numerous laws 
     designed to increase consumer protection; expand housing and 
     community development; increase competition to provide 
     consumers the widest range of financial services at the 
     lowest cost; ensure the safety, soundness and competitive 
     strength of the banking system; and improve the efficacy and 
     fairness of international development programs.
       His leadership role was enlarged further in 2001, at the 
     beginning of the 107th Congress, when the House Banking 
     Committee became the House Financial Services Committee, with 
     expanded jurisdiction that encompassed all three pillars of 
     the U.S. financial system: banking, securities, and 
     insurance. Since that change, Rep. LaFalce has played the key 
     leadership role in developing and enacting new regulatory 
     oversight and increased investor protections in the 
     securities area, to restore market confidence after the 
     corporate abuses revealed by Enron, Global Crossing, WorldCom 
     and others.

                           Financial services

       Financial Services Modernization (Gramm-Leach-Bliley)--For 
     decades, Rep. LaFalce served as a leader in congressional 
     efforts to modernize the Nation's complex financial services 
     system, consistently advocating legislation that would 
     eliminate the arbitrary barriers between commercial and 
     investment banking. His dedication to modernizing the

[[Page E2093]]

     financial services system increased with his chairmanship of 
     a special Task Force formed in 1989--The International 
     Competitiveness of U.S. Financial Institutions. Concluding 
     that the current system increased costs to consumers, denied 
     them easy access to a full range of integrated services, 
     impeded necessary diversification, and put U.S. institutions 
     at a clear disadvantage vis-a-vis foreign competitors in a 
     newly-global marketplace, he made enactment of financial 
     modernization a top priority.
       Early in 1999, working closely with the Clinton Treasury 
     Department, Rep. LaFalce crafted bipartisan legislation that 
     jump-started consideration of financial modernization by 
     garnering Administration support, led by Treasury Secretary 
     Robert Rubin, for the first time in the recent history of 
     that debate. Working co-operatively with the Committee 
     Chairman, and acting as the ``point man'' both for the 
     Administration and House Democrats, he was able to fashion a 
     revised bipartisan bill that ultimately served as the basis 
     for committee passage of the legislation with a strong 
     bipartisan vote of 51-8. That bill provided the basis for the 
     bipartisan agreement that led to enactment of the Financial 
     Services Act of 1999, referred to by The New York Times as 
     ``landmark legislation. . . . The pre-eminent legislative 
     accomplishment of the year.'' The Associated Press referred 
     to Rep. LaFalce's ``leading role'' in crafting the final 
     compromise measure and National Journal's Congress Daily 
     called him the Administration's ``point man on financial 
     issues.''
       For his leadership role, Rep. LaFalce, along with Senate 
     Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm, House Banking 
     Committee Chairman James Leach, and former Treasury Secretary 
     Robert Rubin, was given the ``American Financial Leadership 
     Award'' by the Financial Services Roundtable.
       Federal Reserve Board and Banks--Over the years, Rep. 
     LaFalce has worked closely with the various Chairmen of the 
     Federal Reserve Board, the individual Board Members, and the 
     heads of the various Federal Reserve Banks, particularly the 
     New York Federal Reserve, on a variety of macro- and micro-
     economic, financial services, consumer and international 
     issues. Most recently, he has worked closely with Chairman 
     Alan Greenspan in an effort to pass important corporate 
     netting legislation that would reduce systemic risk related 
     to financial contracts; with New York Federal Reserve Bank 
     President Bill McDonough, Vice-Chairman Roger Ferguson and 
     Governors Susan Bies, Mark Olsen, and Ned Gramlich on the 
     development of the Basel II Accord, on improving the Federal 
     Reserve's regulatory oversight of predatory lending, and on 
     unfair and deceptive trade practices.
       In prior years, Rep. LaFalce worked closely with Federal 
     Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and New York Federal Reserve 
     Bank President Gerald Corrigan on efforts to resolve the 
     Third World debt crisis that was undermining Latin American 
     economies. He also worked closely with the Federal Reserve 
     leadership over many years to ensure the progressive 
     implement of the existing Glass-Steagall statute, and 
     subsequently, to effectively implement the Glass-Steagall Act 
     repeal contained in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley legislation.
       New York City Bail-Out and Chrysler Loan Guarantee 
     Program--In 1978, the Banking Committee played a central role 
     in devising a loan guarantee program to address the economic 
     difficulties and pending bankruptcy of New York City. Again 
     in 1980, the Committee devised another loan guarantee program 
     to secure the economic viability and continued existence of 
     one of the country's major auto manufacturers and major 
     employers, the Chrysler Corporation. Rep. LaFalce played a 
     central role in the development of both loan guarantee 
     programs. His key contributions, which became central 
     elements in both legislative initiatives, were his insistence 
     on ``conditionality'' to ensure that the government 
     assistance was conditioned on changes that would ensure each 
     recipient's independent viability in the longer term, and 
     shared sacrifice by all parties in a position to benefit.

           Corporate account ability and investor protection

       Rep. LaFalce has been Congress's leading advocate for 
     strong investor protections. In 2001, he played a prescient 
     role in altering the world to the warning signs that these 
     problems were just around the corner. Long before Enron was 
     front page news, in early 2001, he repeatedly warned that the 
     earnings manipulation and deceptive accounting practices of 
     large corporations in America threatened the very integrity 
     of our capital markets. At the same time, he repeatedly 
     expressed strong concerns that the significant number of 
     financial restatements and investigations into earnings 
     manipulation--by corporate officers, directors, and 
     accountants, undetected by stock analysts--represented only 
     the tip of the iceberg.
       As the Buffalo News reported, ``If the warning signals of 
     two men in government had been heeded many months ago, the 
     Enron disaster possibly could have been averted. One voice 
     heard but not listened to was that of Arthur Levitt, the 
     former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. . 
     . . A second figure who sounded a warning early on is our own 
     Western New York Congressman, John J. LaFalce. The ranking 
     member of the House Financial Services Committee, in a letter 
     to his constituents in June 2001, wrote: ``Investing has 
     become more risky for Americans. Practices such as earnings 
     manipulation by corporate management, unchecked by boards of 
     directors or auditors, often create a misleading or false 
     story of the financial position of the companies that you may 
     invest in. In addition, stock analysts who recommend stocks 
     often have conflicts of interest that compromise them.''
       LaFalce, elaborating on his concerns, added: ``Since 
     compensation for management and boards of directors is 
     closely tied to companies' stock prices, the pressure on 
     corporations to manipulate earnings can only increase. While 
     auditors should be acting as watchdogs for shareholders, many 
     have become dependent on consulting revenues from the 
     companies they audit, creating a conflict that makes it 
     difficult for them to stand up to their clients.''
       LaFalce's remarks, made many months before the Enron 
     failure, are prophetic of the practices that have since come 
     to light. LaFalce also stated in his newsletter that: ``I 
     believe we may have seen only the tip of the iceberg of 
     accounting irregularities, and I have called for the 
     Financial Services Committee to focus on accounting issues, 
     which have such a profound effect on the integrity of our 
     markets.''
       The colossal failures of Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing 
     and other firms, and the devastating impact on investors and 
     on the working men and women of those companies, have 
     justified LaFalce's concerns. At the same time, Rep. LaFalce 
     has also worked with financial regulators and his colleagues 
     to eliminate conflicts of interest by stock analysts, who in 
     many cases hyped stocks in order to win and maintain 
     investment banking business.
       Corporate Accountability Act (Sarbanes-Oxley)--Rep. LaFalce 
     was the prime mover of the sweeping corporate accounting 
     reform legislation signed into law on July 25, 2002, marking 
     the first step toward bringing about needed change to U.S. 
     capital markets and restoring credibility to corporate 
     America. The new Corporate Accountability Act largely 
     parallels the original bill introduced by Rep. LaFalce in 
     February 2002. That bill, the Comprehensive Investor 
     Protection Act (HR 3818), was the first comprehensive 
     legislative solution to bring substantial and systemic reform 
     to capital markets that have been rocked by corporate 
     bankruptcy scandals. The Senate bill subsequently introduced 
     by Banking Committee Chairman Paul Sarbanes was modeled on 
     the LaFalce bill, and its strong provisions remain the 
     centerpiece of the new Corporate Accountability law. As 
     former SEC Chief Accountant Lynn Turner said ``while 
     [lsqb]the Sarbanes-Oxley bill[rsqb] may not have the LaFalce 
     name on it, it will have the LaFalce intent and heart behind 
     it.''
       Rep. LaFalce was also widely praised by consumer, investor, 
     and labor groups, and the House Democratic Leadership, for 
     his leadership in bringing about these essential auditing 
     reforms. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney praised his 
     ``courageous leadership`` and said ``I particularly want to 
     thank Congressman LaFalce, who has really stood out these 
     last few months as a leader ready to take on powerful Wall 
     Street and big money interests on behalf of working 
     families.``
       House Minority Leader Rep. Richard Gephardt said ``The 
     LaFalce approach does more than make cosmetic reform. It 
     restores accountability to corporate America. . . . 
     [lsqb]LaFalce has been[rsqb] a Patton-like General 
     [lsqb]winning[rsqb] an unconditional surrender from 
     opponents. . . . He has been a gold standard on this issue.'' 
     House Minority Whip Rep. Nancy Pelosi said ``kudos to 
     Financial Services Ranking Member John LaFalce for a 
     magnificent display of leadership . . . in passing the 
     LaFalce-Sarbanes corporate reform legislation.''
       New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said, ``You should 
     enact the LaFalce legislation.'' Both the Consumer Federation 
     of America and U.S. Public Interest Group also commended 
     Representative LaFalce ``for proposing tough, far-reaching 
     auditing reform.''
       SEC Oversight and Resources--In order to address widespread 
     problems with our system of financial disclosure, Rep. 
     LaFalce in early 2001 began calling for a significant 
     increase, 200-300 per cent, in the budget of the Securities 
     and Exchange Commission (SEC) to strengthen its personnel, 
     oversight, and enforcement. In early 2002, President Bush 
     signed legislation to reduce the fees that American 
     corporations pay to the SEC for transactions and registration 
     of stock. The new law also included provisions that would 
     authorize the SEC to pay its staff on a basis that is 
     comparable to the other Federal financial regulatory 
     agencies, potentially improving the ability of the SEC to 
     attract and retain the highest quality staff.
       Rep. LaFalce opposed the bill because of provisions that 
     actually could have reduced the resources available to the 
     SEC. He said of the legislation: ``One of our greatest 
     priorities is the critical need to ensure adequate government 
     oversight of our securities markets. This legislation does 
     nothing to ensure that the SEC has the additional resources 
     it greatly needs to address the many significant issues 
     investors face in these markets.'' In the June 2001 debate on 
     the floor, prior to Enron, Rep. LaFalce said: ``the SEC 
     budget . . . should be beefed up at least 200 percent to 300 
     percent in order to protect the American investor . . . 
     today's bill precludes the type of effective investment I 
     believe we need.''
       Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act 
     (The S&L Crisis)--Rep.

[[Page E2094]]

     LaFalce warned of the impending S&L crisis in the early 
     1980's and sought to address the inadequate regulation, 
     supervision and funding that threatened the solvency of 
     thrift institutions. As the Buffalo News reported, 
     ``Congressman John J. LaFalce, a member of the House Banking 
     Committee, warned that deregulation of the thrifts had gone 
     too far. . . . LaFalce worried that the thrifts' assets were 
     simply thin air, buoyed by a ponzi scheme of overpriced 
     acquisitions.'' He was a staunch critic of the legislation 
     developed to address the crisis, the Financial Institutions 
     Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA), and 
     ultimately opposed its enactment.
       Throughout the 1980s, Rep. LaFalce consistently supported 
     legislation that would have improved the examination and 
     supervision regime governing thrift institutions and 
     recapitalized the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance 
     Corporation, which consistently had inadequate funding to 
     resolve the problems of insolvent thrift institutions.
       By 1989, a combination of years of inadequate regulation 
     and supervision, and inadequate funding, had resulted in a 
     crisis situation. In February 1989, the Bush Administration 
     unveiled the broad outlines of a plan to borrow $50 billion 
     to close down or sell more than 350 weak Savings and Loan 
     institutions. The proposed FIRREA legislation, which evolved 
     from congressional consideration of this broad plan, 
     dramatically restructured federal regulation of thrifts and 
     provided $50 billion over three years to close down or sell 
     off hundreds of insolvent savings institutions.
       While Rep. LaFalce voted for the bill in the House to move 
     it forward with the hope of improving it in conference, he 
     opposed the final legislation, believing it would be 
     ineffective, overly restrictive, costly to taxpayers, and 
     would have serious unintended consequences. He emphasized 
     several problems with the legislation during debate on the 
     bill. First, he noted that the Administration's estimates 
     were based on a series of unreasonably rosy assumptions that 
     resulted in a gross underestimation of the ultimate cost to 
     the taxpayer. Had the enormity of the costs been better 
     appreciated, he was convinced closer scrutiny might have been 
     applied in determining how the bail-out would be structured 
     and how the costs would be funded. He emphasized that, under 
     the plan, it was only the taxpayers' obligation that was 
     indeterminate, and that the structure of the program made the 
     taxpayer the ultimate recourse for any increased financial 
     burden beyond preliminary estimates. The cost of the bail-out 
     was eventually hugely in excess of original estimates, and 
     substantial additional funding was subsequently required.
       Rep. LaFalce also believed that borrowing to pay for the 
     bail-out unnecessarily increased the costs and unfairly 
     passed those costs onto future generations. He argued that it 
     was fiscally irresponsible to borrow to cover even present 
     consumption, let alone the past consumption represented by 
     thrift losses. He emphasized that borrowing the money would 
     turn what was more likely to be a $130 billion problem into a 
     $500 billion drain over the next several decades, imposing 
     the problem on future generations and diverting funds from 
     more pressing social needs.
       Rep. LaFalce also objected to the fact that the states were 
     held harmless from assuming any responsibility for the cost 
     of the bail-out, even though the vast majority of the problem 
     was attributable to state-chartered institutions operating, 
     in many cases, under lax state regulation and supervision. It 
     was his view that having federal taxpayers assume the entire 
     burden for these problems was an abuse of the dual banking 
     system and he called for greater regional equity in bearing 
     the financial burden for the bail-out.
       Rep. LaFalce also argued that the precipitous application 
     of new capital standards made weak, but potentially, viable 
     institutions into problem institutions, and made strong 
     thrift institutions vulnerable. He believed that the 
     structure of the legislation made it virtually impossible for 
     potentially healthy thrifts that could form the core of a 
     revitalized industry to survive. Many weak but viable 
     institutions were in fact lost, and institutions became 
     increasingly risk averse, contributing to a subsequent credit 
     crunch that he had predicted.
       Finally, Rep. LaFalce argued strongly during Committee 
     consideration and subsequently that the suggested treatment 
     of supervisory goodwill under the proposed legislation was a 
     breach of contract that the government could not expect to 
     engage in without the ultimate payment of damages. Thrifts 
     had entered into contracts with their regulator which allowed 
     them to count supervisory goodwill as capital under defined 
     terms and conditions. The legislation would no longer permit 
     such capital treatment.
       As a practical matter, Rep. LaFalce argued that this would 
     result in more thrift failures and a higher cost associated 
     with resolution of the crisis. As a legal matter, Rep. 
     LaFalce foresaw that litigation would ensue and that the 
     government would ultimately be required to pay damages for 
     breaking the contracts that governed the treatment of 
     supervisory goodwill, again increasing the cost of the bail-
     out. His judgment and foresight was vindicated when the U.S. 
     Supreme Court, in July 1996, in the case of United States v. 
     Winstar Corporation, held that contracts were broken and the 
     government was liable for damages.
       In an effort to construct a more workable proposal, Rep. 
     LaFalce advanced a number of amendments in the course of the 
     legislative process. Those amendments, first of all, would 
     have eliminated reliance on the borrowing which was 
     unnecessarily increasing the coverall cost of the bail-out; 
     second, would have given weak, but viable, institutions 
     better prospects of improving their situation, so they would 
     not eventually have to be bailed out by the taxpayer; and 
     third, would have required the states to make some reasonable 
     contribution to the cost of the bail-out. Unfortunately, 
     those amendments were not adopted.
       Credit Union Membership--Rep. LaFalce recognized early in 
     his congressional career the important role played by credit 
     unions within a diversified financial services marketplace. 
     Upon taking a leadership role in the Banking Committee, he 
     provided an influential voice for permitting credit unions to 
     serve a broader segment of American consumers, while also 
     attempting to moderate the banking industry's competitive 
     objections to an expended credit union industry. In 1997, 
     when it appeared that banker-initiated litigation would 
     completely stall future credit union growth, he introduced 
     legislative proposals designed to reopen opportunities for 
     credit union membership and to address key competitive 
     concerns expressed by the banks. This balanced proposal 
     provided the framework for the Credit Union Membership Access 
     Act of 1998, which was passed by Congress with huge 
     majorities and signed by President Clinton within months of 
     its formal introduction. The legislation provided a new 
     framework for multiple-group credit unions and for community 
     charter conversions that has significantly expanded credit 
     union membership. Rep. LaFalce has continued to advocate 
     legislative changes that offer new opportunities to expand 
     credit union membership and services within the balanced 
     framework of the 1998 Act.
       His work on behalf of credit unions was recognized with 
     special awards from the Credit Union National Association in 
     1999 and the New York Credit Union League in 1998, and a 
     special career recognition award from the National 
     Association of Federal Credit Unions in October, 2002.
       Interstate Banking/Branching--Rep. LaFalce was one of the 
     first advocates in Congress for repealing outdated federal 
     prohibitions on interstate banking. In 1985, he introduced 
     one of the first bills to authorize interstate branching by 
     national banks, bank holding companies, and thrifts. The bill 
     would have permitted a bank of one state to establish a 
     branch in another state to the same extent as those of other 
     states allowed interstate branching by state banks. His 
     initial bill became the model for the landmark 1994 law, the 
     Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act, 
     which repealed prohibitions on interstate banking, increased 
     availability of credit to our communities nationwide, and led 
     to the emergence of a more competitive, safer and sounder 
     banking system.
       Insurance--Rep. LaFalce recognized very early in his career 
     that state-by-state regulation of the insurance industry 
     severely limits the ability of the national government to 
     respond to crises in the insurance industry that affect the 
     national economy. The 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act assured that 
     insurance companies would remain under state regulation and 
     that they would enjoy a limited exemption from antitrust 
     laws.
       The Act led to a situation in the 1970s and 1980s that 
     caused businesses, particularly small firms, to have 
     difficulty in obtaining product liability insurance. When the 
     insurance was available, the premiums were very expensive. As 
     Chairman of the Small Business Subcommittee on Capital, 
     Investment and Business Opportunities, Rep. LaFalce led an 
     extensive investigation into the product liability crisis. 
     His Subcommittee determined that much of the blame for the 
     crisis could be pinned on panic pricing by insurance 
     companies that was left unchecked by most state regulators. 
     The Subcommittee also found evidence that the antitrust 
     exemption led to a lack of competition in the pricing of 
     product liability insurance, and that a fairer Uniform 
     Product Liability law would be far preferable to 50 separate 
     state laws.
       Rep. LaFalce introduced legislation to address the crisis 
     through the establishment of a national insurance commission, 
     which would have ensured that premiums for product liability 
     and other types of insurance were reasonable and that 
     policyholders were protected from unfair and deceptive 
     practices of insurance companies. Rep. LaFalce's legislation 
     would have limited McCarran-Ferguson by eliminating the 
     industry's antitrust exemption, thereby curbing anti-
     competitive practices. He also worked with Professor Victor 
     Schwartz to introduce in Congress the first Uniform Product 
     Liability Act, a bill that was, unfortunately, then opposed 
     by Republicans and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
       Although the Commerce Committee never took up the 
     legislation, persistent crisis in the insurance industry 
     confirmed Rep. LaFalce's belief that the Federal Government 
     must play a role in regulating an industry that is so vital 
     to the national economy. Following the terrorist attacks on 
     the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 
     2001, the market for reinsurance for risks related to 
     terrorism began to evaporate. Rep. LaFalce was among the 
     first in Congress to call for the creation of a federal 
     backstop for terrorism insurance. He believed that the lack 
     of adequate and affordable terrorism insurance could slow 
     reconstruction of New York City and weaken the

[[Page E2095]]

     nation's entire economy. The Federal Government was slow to 
     respond to that crisis, in part, because there was no 
     insurance expertise within the Executive Branch.
       Rep. LaFalce also was one of the first in Congress to 
     recognize that state regulation of the insurance industry 
     increases costs for both insurance companies and consumers. 
     This regulatory structure also creates inconsistent 
     protections for consumers and regulatory requirements for 
     companies because not all states can do a good job of 
     protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive practices in 
     the insurance industry. In February 2002, Rep. LaFalce 
     introduced the Insurance Industry Modernization and Consumer 
     Protection Act (IIMCPA), which provides insurance companies 
     the option of a single federal insurance regulator rather 
     than 50 state regulators. The IIMCPA would protect consumers 
     by establishing for the first time national minimum standards 
     to combat unfair and deceptive practices in the insurance 
     industry.

                          Consumer protections

       Rep. LaFalce has been a longstanding consumer and community 
     advocate as reflected in his work on the landmark Financial 
     Services Act of 1999 as well as on numerous other legislative 
     initiatives during his career on the House Banking Committee.
       He authored key provisions of the financial modernization 
     that are designed to protect consumers against deceptive 
     practices in the sales of insurance and investment products 
     in a bank's lobby. At his insistence, the Financial Services 
     Act of 1999 incorporates strong safeguard to (1) ensure that 
     consumers are not confused about new financial products, the 
     risk they carry, and whether or not they are insured; (2) 
     prevent a bank from forcing its customers to purchase another 
     product, such as an insurance policy, as a condition for 
     receiving a loan; (3) ensure a consumer grievance process is 
     put in place; and (4) require full disclosure of ATM 
     surcharges.
       Upon his retirement, the Consumer Federation of America, in 
     a letter dated June 27, 2002, praised Rep. LaFalce for his 
     effort on behalf of consumers: ``No one in Congress has 
     fought harder for everyday consumers and investors than John 
     LaFalce. He combines a bedrock commitment to consumer 
     protection with a savvy awareness of how to move important 
     legislation through Congress in the face of special interest 
     opposition.''
       Financial Privacy--In the area of financial privacy, it was 
     legislation that Rep. LaFalce had introduced in 1998 and 1999 
     that laid the basis for the historic financial privacy 
     protections that Congress included within the Financial 
     Services Act. He led a bipartisan effort to craft provisions 
     that provided the strongest consumer privacy protections ever 
     enacted into law. Considering these efforts as only a first 
     step in safeguarding consumer privacy, Rep. LaFalce joined 
     with the Clinton Administration early in 2000 to introduce 
     new legislation to further enhance these financial privacy 
     protections, and he helped usher through the Banking 
     Committee new legislation providing strong policy protections 
     for consumer health and medical information.
       Enhancing Access to Credit--Rep. LaFalce was a staunch 
     defender of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) during 
     numerous attempts to repeal or limit its mandate that 
     financial institutions serve all segments of their community. 
     He was instrumental in expanding the CRA within the context 
     of the financial modernization legislation to require all 
     banking institutions seeking new, non-banking activities to 
     demonstrate a continuing commitment to meeting the financial 
     services needs of low-income and minority communities. As a 
     result of his efforts, the Financial Services Act ensure that 
     the CRA, which requires that financial institutions meet 
     local community needs, will remain of central importance in 
     the new, evolving financial marketplace.
       Rep. LaFalce also led the effort to incorporate many of the 
     nation's ``un-banked'' low- and moderate-income individuals 
     into the financial mainstream. His legislation, the First 
     Accounts Act of 2000, became the basis for a pilot program 
     initiated by the U.S. Treasury Department. The program is 
     designed to help more than eight million low- and moderate-
     income people for whom the cost of checking or savings 
     accounts are too high. Working in partnership with financial 
     institutions, the U.S. Treasury helps these individuals gain 
     access to basic, low-cost financial services, including ATM 
     access and checking accounts. The First Accounts program will 
     widen access for many Americans to the mainstream banking and 
     credit system so that no family may be left behind.
       Mortgage Servicing Rights and Protections--Rep. LaFalce 
     authored the initial legislation that resulted in the 1990 
     amendments to improve consumer protections in the Real Estate 
     Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). Those improvements provide 
     for advance notice to homeowners--now known as ``LaFalce'' 
     notices--alerting them that their mortgage servicing is to be 
     transferred to another financial institution. The notices 
     also provide certain protections to consumers during the 
     transfer, including assurance of the proper handling of 
     monthly mortgage payments and prompt payment of insurance and 
     tax obligations from escrow accounts.
       Rep. LaFalce also was instrumental in securing enactment of 
     ``Mortgage Loan Consumer Protection Act'' (H.R. 4818) in 1996 
     that granted consumers new rights, based on New York law, to 
     cancel unnecessary and costly private mortgage insurance 
     (PMI). In the 107th Congress, he also introduced legislation 
     providing for comprehensive reform of RESPA's mortgage 
     settlement procedures to help simplify the mortgage 
     settlement process and further enhance protections for 
     consumers.
       Abusive Credit Card Practices--Rep. LaFalce led the effort 
     in Congress to identify and address a growing number of 
     abusive practices in connection with credit card 
     solicitations and the management of credit card accounts. He 
     first introduced the ``Consumer Credit Card Protection 
     Amendments'' in 1999 to protect consumers against the most 
     egregious practices common to most credit cards, including 
     misleading ``teaser'' interest rate claims in card 
     solicitations, inadequately disclosed late payment penalties 
     and default interest rates, and penalties for paying card 
     balances in full. A key provision of the bill also sought to 
     prohibit issuing credit cards to minors without parental 
     approval or evidence of means of repayment. The Lafalce bill 
     served as the basis for Democratic efforts to add credit card 
     reform proposals to a bankruptcy bill strongly favored by the 
     credit card industry.
       Press reports during 1999 and 2000 began to focus public 
     attention on fraudulent schemes to withhold the posting of 
     credit card payments to generate late fees and to trap 
     vulnerable consumers in high-cost credit accounts with 
     misleading ``bait and switch'' tactics. Rep. LaFalce 
     responded by introducing the ``Credit Card Predatory 
     Practices Prevention Act'' (H.R. 1060) in 2001 to require 
     federal banking regulators to issue detailed regulations 
     defining unfair and deceptive practices in credit card 
     accounts. The bill proposed to expand the scope of the 
     federal Truth in Lending Act to address abuses in the 
     administration of credit card accounts as well as impose new 
     restrictions on deceptive practices in credit card 
     solicitations.
       Unfair and Deceptive Credit Practices--from his work 
     drafting legislative responses to predatory mortgage lending 
     and abusive credit card practices, Rep. LaFalce discerned 
     that federal law provided little, if any, protection for 
     consumers against unfair or deceptive practices generally in 
     credit transactions. A 1975 change in law exempted financial 
     institutions from the general prohibition against unfair and 
     deceptive business practices in the Federal Trade Commission 
     Act. The Federal Reserve Board was given responsibility for 
     issuing separate rules defining unfair and deceptive 
     practices for regulated financial institutions, which it has 
     failed to use. Beginning in 2000, Rep. LaFalce used the 
     opportunity of Committee oversight hearings to challenge the 
     Federal Reserve Board for its continuing failure over a 
     twenty-five year period to write comprehensive rules 
     prohibiting unfair and deceptive credit practices. In a 
     series of direct meetings and letter exchanges with Board 
     Chairman Alan Greenspan, he continued to press the need for 
     more specific prohibitions on unfair credit practices. The 
     exchanges led to a change in Federal Reserve Board policy in 
     June 2002 in which the Board acknowledged its authority to 
     prohibit unfair practices by regulation and, in the absence 
     of such regulations, that the banking regulatory agencies 
     could act to prohibit unfair practices on a case-by-case 
     basis. The change in policy provided support for enforcement 
     actions by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency 
     against several credit card companies and new guidance on 
     unfair and deceptive banking practices from the Federal 
     Deposit Insurance Corporation.
       Automobile Leasing Protections--Rep. LaFalce was the first 
     Member of Congress to recognize automobile leasing as an 
     important consumer transaction and an area of growing 
     consumer abuse. Consumer unfamiliarity with the complex terms 
     and cost factors of leases make them particularly vulnerable 
     to manipulation and abuse. He joined with the Consumer 
     Federation of American in drawing attention to the lack of 
     clear and accurate cost information in auto lease advertising 
     and in information provided by auto dealerships. In 1995, and 
     again in succeeding Congresses, he introduced the ``Consumer 
     Automobile Lease Advertising Improvement Act'' (H.R. 1056 in 
     the 107th Congress) to provide uniform cost disclosures in 
     lease advertisements, prevent abusive practices in connection 
     with advertised lease offers, and require that all relevant 
     information on available lease terms and manufacturer 
     incentives be made available to consumers upon request. The 
     bill sought to apply, for the first time, the traditional 
     principle of the consumer's ``right to know'' to more complex 
     auto lease transactions.

                 Economic and community revitalization

       Rep. LaFalce has been a leader in economic revitalization 
     and community development issues throughout his career in 
     Congress, using his position on the Banking Committee to 
     direct federal dollars to institutions that invest in 
     economic development and job growth in distressed communities 
     and to provide targeted assistance to those communities. He 
     worked especially hard to assure that federal funds were 
     available to assist needed housing and economic development 
     efforts throughout Western New York.
       Renewal Communities--Rep. LaFalce played a key role in 
     creating and enacting into law Renewal Community legislation, 
     which provides a broad range of investment tax incentives 
     designed to spur economic development and create jobs in 40 
     Renewal Communities nationwide. He also played a critical 
     role in having three of those 40 Renewal Communities 
     designated locally--in

[[Page E2096]]

     Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Rochester. In October 2002, the 
     House adopted Rep. LaFalce's bill (HR 3100) to expand these 
     renewal community areas to include those census tracts that 
     declined economically over the past decade.
       Urban Development Action Grants--In 1977, Rep. LaFalce co-
     authored legislation creating the federal Urban Development 
     Action Grants (UDAG) program, which has targeted billions of 
     dollars over the years for distressed cities to help spur 
     private development and create jobs.
       Community Development Block Grants[dash]Rep. LaFalce worked 
     hard to assure the continuation of Community Development 
     Block Grant (CDBG) funding for Buffalo, Rochester, Niagara 
     Falls, Erie County and other jurisdictions, which they have 
     used to revitalize downtown shopping areas, redevelop 
     waterfront areas, create historic districts, develop 
     industrial parks, and rehabilitate thousands of units of 
     needed moderate-priced housing. He also was the driving force 
     in changing the formulas to advantage other communities, 
     largely in the Northeast.

                             Small business

       During his time as Chairman of the House Small Business 
     Committee (1987-1994), and as Ranking Member (1995-1998), 
     Rep. LaFalce was an active, committed advocate for the needs 
     and concerns of America's vital small business community. He 
     worked to create and expand federal programs that provide 
     loan guarantees for new and growing small businesses; direct 
     federal loans to micro-enterprises; expand the authority of 
     the Federal Home Loan Bank System to invest in economic 
     development and small business projects; make loans more 
     readily available to women entrepreneurs; provide technical 
     and managerial assistance to new small businesses; and 
     increase small business participation in federal procurement. 
     Rep. LaFalce's long history of support for our nation's small 
     businesses continued into his final term in Congress, when he 
     worked to help small businesses recover from the September 11 
     terrorist attacks (see Terrorism Response, below).
       Small Business Innovation & Research--As author of the 
     Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program in 1982, 
     Rep. LaFalce helped create thousands of jobs through 
     development of new and innovative technology. This program 
     calls on federal agencies to direct a portion of their 
     research and development budgets to small businesses that use 
     creative technology to solve problems. To date, the SBIR 
     program has shifted more than two billion dollars in federal 
     research and development funds to the nation's small high-
     tech firms. The leading small business magazine, INC., termed 
     Rep. LaFalce's bill ``the most important piece of small 
     business legislation yet enacted in our lifetime.''
       In 1992, Rep. LaFalce incorporated a new initiative into 
     this policy called the Small Business Technology Transfer 
     program, which connects small firms with government and 
     university research laboratories. The result is a weather of 
     new research and technology with practical applications for 
     business and industry.
       Small Business Investment Companies--As a member and 
     Chairman of the Committee on Small Business, Rep. LaFalce led 
     the way in increasing the availability of capital and loans 
     to small businesses. He authored the Small Business Equity 
     Enhancement Act, enacted in 1992, which brought important 
     reforms to the Small Business Investment Company program to 
     help small businesses obtain financing for starting, 
     maintaining and expanding operations. SBICs provide funding 
     to small businesses equity investments (purchasing their 
     stock) and debt (issuing loans).
       As Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, Rep. 
     LaFalce successfully led congressional efforts to persuade 
     the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System to 
     reconsider a regulatory proposal that would have imposed 
     extremely burdensome capital requirements on bank-owned SBICs 
     and that could have significantly decreased SBIC equity 
     investments in small businesses.
       Women Business Owners--As Chairman of the Small Business 
     Committee, Rep. LaFalce took a special interest in the needs 
     and concerns of the growing number of women small business 
     entrepreneurs. He authored the Women's Business Ownership 
     Act, which continues to successfully fulfill its purpose: to 
     improve access to credit and provide other opportunities for 
     women in today's marketplace. Rep. LaFalce subsequently 
     authored the Women's Business Development Act which re-
     authorized and built upon the original landmark legislation. 
     He also created the Interagency Committee on Women's Business 
     Issues, to ensure that actions and policies of all federal 
     agencies take women's business concerns into account. For his 
     efforts, he was honored by the National Association of Women 
     Business Owners as Congressional Advocate of the Year.
       Tax Code Section 89 Repeal--Rep. LaFalce scored a major 
     victory on behalf of small businesses in 1988 when he 
     succeeded in his legislative effort to repeal the onerous 
     provisions of Section 89 of the Tax Code relating to employee 
     benefits. The newly enacted Section 89 required annual, 
     complex data collection and record-keeping to ensure that 
     employer-provided benefits meet certain criteria in order to 
     retain their tax-exempt status. Its provisions were 
     especially burdensome for small businesses and were causing 
     many to drop all employee benefits to avoid Section 89's 
     costly record-keeping requirements. For his successful 
     efforts, Rep. LaFalce won nationwide acclaim from such 
     diverse groups as the National Federation of Independent 
     Business, the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National 
     Association of Manufacturers, and a host of labor 
     organizations.
       Franchising--Rep. LaFalce is the leading authority in 
     Congress on business franchising and the franchising 
     industry. As Chairman of the House Committee on Small 
     Business, he initiated what became a five-year Committee 
     study of franchising practices, involving numerous hearings, 
     staff studies and legislation. The Committee's activities 
     constituted Congress's first comprehensive review of the 
     economy's important franchising sector in more than 20 years.
       Based on his initial hearings, Rep. LaFalce introduced the 
     ``Federal Franchise Disclosure and Consumer Protection Act'' 
     in 1992 to require public disclosure of all material facts 
     about franchise business opportunities and provide investor 
     protections against fraud and misrepresentation. Many 
     provisions of the bill were later used by the Federal Trade 
     Commission and the North American Securities Administrators 
     Association to improve federal and state franchise disclosure 
     forms. A second bill introduced in 1993, the ``Federal Fair 
     Franchise Practices Act,'' continues to be the primary 
     legislation in Congress to prohibit unfair franchising 
     practices and establish minimum standards of conduct in 
     franchise relationships. Both bills have also served as 
     models for many other legislative initiatives.
       Rep. LaFalce's continuing efforts to identify and examine 
     unfair franchising practices brought both immediate and long-
     term changes to franchising. It led to increased enforcement 
     against fraudulent franchise schemes by the Federal Trade 
     Commission. It prompted the International Franchise 
     Association to announce a series of industry reforms, 
     including an expanded industry Code of Ethics and the 
     introduction of franchisees into the Association's 
     membership. In addition, Rep. LaFalce was instrumental in 
     encouraging the formation of new organizations to represent 
     the interests of individual franchise business owners, 
     including the American Association of Franchisees and Dealers 
     and the American Franchisee Association.
       Small Business Loan Programs--Rep. LaFalce has been a 
     leader in the Congress in protecting government loan programs 
     for small businesses. He consistently fought off attempts to 
     scale back and scuttle the SBA's loan guarantee program which 
     supports many billions of dollars annually in loans to small 
     firms. He also sought innovative ways to increase lending to 
     small businesses. In 1989, he proposed the establishment of a 
     federally chartered private corporation to encourage long-
     term financing to small businesses (``Velda Sue''--HR 3179). 
     This would create a secondary market for these loans--similar 
     to the one created through Fannie Mae with housing loans--and 
     would match investors with small businesses in need of long-
     term capital.
       Small Business Development Centers--Rep. LaFalce has been a 
     champion of the Small Business Development Center program, 
     which is a cooperative effort of the private sector, the 
     educational community and state, federal and local 
     governments. The program enhances economic development by 
     providing small businesses with management and technical 
     assistance at no charge.
       Rep. LaFalce authored legislation, enacted in 1990, that 
     established the Central European Small Business Enterprise 
     Development Commission, with the mandate to assist Poland, 
     Hungary and the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic (now the 
     Czech Republic and Slovakia) in developing self-sustaining 
     systems of SBDCs to provide management and technical 
     assistance to small business owners in those countries. The 
     Commission established several SBDCs under the joint 
     sponsorship of the United States Government and the 
     governments of the host countries, with the host countries 
     eventually assuming responsibility for funding the centers.
       SBA Disaster Office in Niagara Falls--As Chairman of the 
     Small Business Committee, Rep. LaFalce worked with the George 
     H.W. Bush Administration to bring one of four Small Business 
     Administration Disaster Area offices to the City of Niagara 
     Falls in 1989. That office administers the SBA's Disaster 
     Loan program for 13 states in the northeast. It employs about 
     125 people full-time, rising to 300 or more during peak 
     periods. After 9-11, for example, the Niagara Falls office 
     processed and administered more than $400 million in disaster 
     assistance to business and individuals in New York City and 
     metropolitan Washington, D.C. When the office sought to 
     relocate out of Niagara County in 2002, Rep. LaFalce 
     spearheaded a successful effort to keep the Disaster Office 
     in downtown Niagara Falls.
       White House Conference on Small Business--In order to 
     establish a national, broad-based agenda and policy on behalf 
     of small businesses that are so important to the nation's 
     economy, Rep. LaFalce led the effort to convene a White House 
     Conference on Small Business. Legislation he authored to 
     mandate such a conference was enacted in October 1990, and 
     the White House Conference was held in the spring of 1995. 
     This gathering of more than 1,500 small businessmen and women 
     gave them a unique opportunity to influence the course of 
     government

[[Page E2097]]

     policymaking. The delegates were addressed by President 
     Clinton, Vice President Gore, and prominent Members of 
     Congress, including Rep. LaFalce. His message was simple: it 
     is important that the voice of small business, as the engine 
     of job creation in the United States, be heard loudly and 
     clearly, and he promised to take the conferees' 
     recommendations to the Congress in order to address their 
     concerns.
       Minority Business Set-Aside--In the 100th Congress, Rep. 
     LaFalce successfully reformed the scandal-plagued SBA 
     Minority Business Development program (Section 8a) which was 
     riddled with fraud and abuse. His bill, the Business 
     Opportunity Development Program, enacted in October 1988 
     (P.L. 100-656), ensured that the Capital Ownership 
     Development Program and the Section 8(a) authority would be 
     used exclusively to help develop small businesses, owned and 
     controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged 
     individuals, in order to enable them to compete on an equal 
     basis in the mainstream of the American economy.

                                Housing

       Rep. LaFalce used his position on the Financial Services 
     Committee to fight for increased funding for key housing and 
     community development programs, and to enact numerous housing 
     initiatives designed to expand home-ownership, meet the 
     challenges of providing affordable housing and services to a 
     growing seniors population, and to address the problems of 
     homelessness.
       Elderly Housing--At the beginning of the 106th Congress, 
     Rep. LaFalce introduced his comprehensive ``Elderly Housing 
     Quality Improvement Act'' (HR 4817). The vast majority of 
     these provisions were enacted into law by that Congress, 
     including a $50 million initiative to convert affordable 
     seniors' housing projects to assisted living facilities; a 
     doubling of federal funding for service coordinators, which 
     help seniors access community services and maintain their 
     independence; and expanded funding for capital repair of 
     affordable seniors' rental housing. The 106th Congress also 
     approved legislation authored by Rep. LaFalce to make it 
     easier for elderly homeowners to use reverse mortgages to 
     purchase long-term care insurance.
       Federal Home Loan Banks--Rep. LaFalce contributed 
     significantly to the modernization of the Federal Home Loan 
     Bank System, a nationwide cooperative of twelve regional 
     banks formed in 1932 to improve the flow of long-term funds 
     and liquidity into housing. In 1989, as part of FIRREA, he 
     supported broadening its mission to include rural housing, 
     affordable housing, and economic and community development. 
     He was actively involved in improving federal oversight of 
     the system through the establishment of a stronger, more 
     independent federal regulator--the Federal Housing Finance 
     Board--and by toughening capital and safety and soundness 
     regulation. Throughout his career, Rep. LaFalce worked 
     closely with the various home loan banks, particularly the 
     Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, and their executives, 
     financial institution members, and state, local and community 
     organizations, to maximize the contribution to both housing 
     and economic development.
       Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac--A major factor contributing to 
     record national homeownership rates is the ready availability 
     of affordable mortgage loans offered by Fannie Mae and 
     Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are private 
     companies, but are federally chartered and federally 
     regulated.
       Rep. LaFalce has constructively supported the important 
     role of these two lenders in our mortgage markets in the face 
     of congressional attacks, while at the same time supporting 
     strong federal safety and soundness regulation and increased 
     goals with respect to the percentage of mortgage loans made 
     by Fannie and Freddie to low- and moderate-income families 
     and under-served areas.
       He successfully persuaded Fannie Mae to establish a 
     partnership office in Buffalo and to commit $5 billion for 
     new housing investments in the region, a figure which the 
     office has greatly exceeded.
       HOUSE Act--In the 106th Congress, Rep. LaFalce introduced 
     the HOUSE Act, innovative legislation that authorizes one 
     percent down payment FHA loans for teachers, police, and 
     firefighters buying a home in their local school district or 
     employing jurisdiction. He shepherded this bill through the 
     House in 2000 and, though the bill died in conference as a 
     result of opposition from Senate Republicans, it continues to 
     gain widespread support and stands a good chance of enactment 
     in the near future.
       Homelessness--In 2000, Rep. LaFalce spearheaded an 
     emergency funding initiative that restored rental assistance 
     for tens of thousands of families nationwide (including 178 
     in Erie County, NY) who faced eviction and homelessness as a 
     result of HUD cutting off funding. He subsequently took the 
     lead in Congress on an initiative that resulted in action by 
     the Appropriations Committee to provide a separate funding 
     source for renewal of homeless rental assistance in order to 
     prevent a recurrence of the funding cutoff experienced in 
     2000.

                              Environment

       Superfund--The infamous Love Canal toxic waste scandal in 
     Niagara County was the impetus for federal legislation to 
     hold corporations liable to pay for the clean-up of hazardous 
     waste sites across the country. Rep. LaFalce first discovered 
     the problems at the Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls 
     in the summer of 1977, and immediately wrote to Douglas 
     Costle, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
     Administrator, about the problem. He made the first of many 
     personal inspections of Love Canal a few weeks later, and 
     brought President Jimmy Carter, Governor Hugh Carey, Rep. Al 
     Gore, and others to Western New York for on-site visits. Rep. 
     LaFalce urged swift action on relocation of the residents and 
     cleanup of the site. As a result, the following year 
     President Carter declared a health emergency at Love Canal, 
     paving the way for the relocation and cleanup.
       In response to the events at Love Canal, Rep. LaFalce 
     crafted and introduced the first Superfund legislation aimed 
     at compensating victims and taxing polluters to pay for the 
     cleanup of toxic wastes they generated. President Carter 
     later submitted a scaled-down version of the LaFalce bill, 
     and Congress subsequently approved it in December 1980.
       In 1986, when the Superfund law was reauthorized, Rep. 
     LaFalce drafted and successfully fought for an amendment that 
     specifically targeted Love Canal, committing the Federal 
     Government to purchase rental homes and commercial property 
     in the Love Canal Emergency Declaration Area and to maintain 
     property there, as well as to take the steps necessary to 
     ensure that Love Canal was fully remediated and monitored for 
     years to come.
       In 1998, Rep. LaFalce was recognized for his efforts by the 
     Center for Health, Environment and Justice, headed by former 
     Love Canal activist Lois Gibbs, at an awards ceremony in 
     Washington to mark the 20th anniversary of the emergency 
     declaration at Love Canal.
       Radioactive Waste Cleanups--Rep. LaFalce has been a 
     national leader on the issue of cleaning up sites 
     contaminated by Manhattan Project radioactive waste 
     materials. During his years of service in Congress, he has 
     helped secure hundreds of millions of dollars for the 
     remediation of many such sites in Erie and Niagara Counties: 
     Linde, Ashland I and II, and Seaway (all in Tonawanda), and 
     the Niagara Falls Storage Site in Lewiston. Most recently, 
     Rep. LaFalce urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to 
     investigate the possibility of including the former Simonds 
     Saw and Steel plant in Lockport for remediation under the 
     FUSRAP program.

                              Health Care

       Rep. LaFalce has long been an outspoken leader in the 
     ongoing debate on a variety of national health care issues, 
     always insisting that adequate health care should be a basic 
     right of citizenship, not a privilege of employment.
       Expanding Health Care Coverage--Rep. LaFalce has long been 
     an advocate for a universal coverage/single payer approach to 
     solving America's health care crisis which leaves 40 million 
     people uninsured. He has promoted legislation that would 
     ensure access to affordable, high quality health care for 
     everyone, regardless of employment, income, or health status. 
     All Americans would be guaranteed health care coverage and 
     would have complete freedom in their choice of providers. 
     Rep. LaFalce proposed this plan not only to improve America's 
     health care system, but to relieve businesses of the 
     financial burden of paying for most of our health care 
     coverage.
       Diabetes--Rep. LaFalce has been a leading advocate for 
     diabetes research and increased healthcare coverage for 
     diabetes prevention and treatment programs. In 1997, he and 
     his colleagues on the Congressional Diabetes Caucus convinced 
     Congress to show their commitment to conquering diabetes with 
     the creation of the Diabetes Research Working Group (DRWG), a 
     panel of leading diabetes researchers appointed by the 
     National Institutes of Health, to develop a comprehensive 
     plan for the 21st Century for all NIH-funded diabetes 
     research efforts, and to recommend future diabetes research 
     initiatives. In 1999, Rep. LaFalce authored H. Res. 325, 
     expressing the support of Congress for increased federal 
     funding for diabetes research, awareness and early detection 
     programs. The LaFalce resolution passed the House 
     unanimously, 414-0.
       Rep. LaFalce also worked closely with the National Office 
     of the American Diabetes Association to protect coverage of 
     Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) under Medicare for people 
     with diabetes and to distinguish it from diabetes self-
     management training (DSMT), a separate, though complimentary, 
     service integral to diabetes care. He was honored in 2000 and 
     2002 by the American Diabetes Association with its Valor 
     Award in recognition of his continuing efforts to secure 
     increased funding for diabetes research and ``for his 
     outstanding service to people with diabetes.''
       Multiple Sclerosis--Rep. LaFalce introduced the Multiple 
     Sclerosis Treatment Act in 1997, and again in 2001, to 
     provide for Medicare Part B (Supplementary Medical Insurance) 
     coverage of certain self-administered beta interferons and 
     other biologicals and drugs approved by the Federal Drug 
     Administration for treatment of multiple sclerosis. In 1995, 
     he was honored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as 
     ``Congressman of the Year'' for his ``deep personal 
     appreciation and commitment to the needs of people with MS.''
       Sleep Disorders--Rep. LaFalce has been a leader in 
     advocating increased public awareness of and research into 
     sleep disorders, which affect nearly two-thirds of American 
     adults. In 2001, he secured $125,000 in federal

[[Page E2098]]

     funds for a joint educational program coordinated between the 
     University of Buffalo Medical School, Mount St. Mary's 
     Hospital Sleep Disorder Center in Lewiston, and Millard 
     Fillmore-Gates Hospital's Sleep Disorder Center in Buffalo. 
     In 2001, Rep. LaFalce received the National Sleep 
     Foundation's very first Public Policy Leadership Award as 
     ``Congressman of the Year'' in recognition of his efforts to 
     increase national attention to the problem of sleep 
     disorders.
       Respiratory Studies--Rep. LaFalce has long been concerned 
     about the respiratory health of Western New Yorkers, and the 
     effects of air pollution on respiratory disease and other 
     illnesses. In 2001, he obtained $213,000 from the Centers for 
     Disease Control's National Center for Environmental Health 
     for Buffalo General's Center for Asthma and Environmental 
     Exposure to conduct a study of the respiratory health of 
     residents in neighborhoods adjacent to four international 
     bridges: the Peace Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge, the Whirlpool 
     Bridge and the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.
       The study was conducted to help determine to what extent, 
     and in what ways, the health of local residents is adversely 
     affected by bridge traffic. It will also help bring health 
     concerns to the forefront of discussions about reducing 
     congestion and improving traffic flow at each of the four 
     bridges and border-crossings

                                Gambling

       National Gambling Study Commission--Rep. LaFalce has been 
     one of the House's leading activists on gambling issues. As 
     Chairman of the Small Business Committee, he conducted a 
     hearing in 1994 that documented the rise in business failures 
     and other economic problems following the introduction of 
     casino and river boat gambling in a number of U.S. 
     communities. The hearing convinced him that local officials 
     required more comprehensive information before considering 
     high stakes gambling as an economic development strategy. He 
     introduced the first legislation in Congress in 1994 calling 
     for a special national commission to conduct a comprehensive 
     study of all aspects of the gambling issue. His chief co-
     sponsor on the bill was Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA). With the 
     shift in control of the House in 1995, he joined with Rep. 
     Wolf in introducing a bipartisan commission proposal that was 
     enacted by Congress in 1996. The National Gambling Impact 
     Study Commission began work in 1997 and submitted its 
     detailed report to Congress in June, 1999. The Commission 
     succeeded in taking one of the most difficult and divisive 
     issues in America and producing an extremely detailed and 
     thoughtful study with more than 70 recommendations for 
     federal, state and tribal policy.
       Gambling and Credit Cards--The National Gambling Impact 
     Study Commission reported that problems associated with 
     compulsive or pathological gambling had increased 
     dramatically with the spread of high stakes gambling to more 
     U.S. cities. It attributed part of the problem to the growing 
     availability of cash and credit in and around gambling 
     establishments and called for legislation to remove ATM, 
     credit card and other electronic funds transfer devices from 
     gambling areas. Within months of receiving the Commission's 
     report, Rep. LaFalce introduced legislation to implement 
     these important recommendations. The ``Gambling ATM and 
     Credit/Debit Card Reform Act of 1999'' prohibited gambling 
     establishment from placing credit card terminals, debit card 
     point of sale devices or ATM machines within the immediate 
     area of gambling activity. Its purpose was to minimize the 
     possibility of financial institutions becoming unwitting 
     accomplices in encouraging compulsive behavior.
       Internet Gambling--The National Commission strongly 
     reaffirmed the principle of state regulation of gambling, but 
     made an important exception for Internet gambling. One of the 
     Commission's few unanimous recommendations was a call for 
     congressional action to restrict illegal Internet gambling, 
     and specifically legislation to block credit card and other 
     electronic payments that make on-line betting possible. Rep. 
     LaFalce introduced the ``Internet Gambling Payments 
     Prohibition Act'' in 2000 to implement the Commission's 
     recommendation to prohibit all forms of payment for gambling 
     bets over the Internet. This bill was merged with a similar 
     proposal by Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) in 2001 and provided the 
     basis for the bipartisan ``Leach-LaFalce Internet Gambling 
     Enforcement Act'' (HR 556) that was approved by the House by 
     voice vote in October, 2002.

                       Trade and competitiveness

       Can-Am Free Trade--Rep. LaFalce became the principal leader 
     in Congress on the subject of free trade with Canada, our 
     largest trading partner. He conducted several hearings on the 
     issue and spoke continuously on its behalf, both in the U.S. 
     and Canada. His efforts reached fruition with implementation 
     of the historic U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement. It was a 
     step Rep. LaFalce had been advocating since 1986, when he 
     began his series of seven hearings on trade with Canada. In 
     recognition of his work, President Reagan gave Rep. LaFalce a 
     pen at the signing ceremony and chose Niagara Falls as the 
     site of the National Conference on the Can-Am Free Trade 
     Agreement. The U.S. sent Trade Representative Carla Hills, 
     and Canada sent its Ambassador to the U.S., Derek Burney to 
     join LaFalce as keynoters.
       NAFTA--As leader in Congress for free--but fair--trade 
     pacts with other nations, Rep. LaFalce was a leading opponent 
     in 1993 of the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement 
     with Mexico and Canada. He chaired a series of hearings in 
     the Congress which exposed the potential difficulties of 
     NAFTA for all three nations and continued to raise concerns 
     about the effects the agreement would have on environmental, 
     labor, and political standards in North America.
       Rep. LaFalce argued at the time that the economies and 
     political institutions in the United States and Mexico were 
     far too different to allow for open markets between the two 
     countries. He pointed to important political and judicial 
     reforms, as well as basic labor and environmental 
     protections, that were needed in Mexico before both countries 
     could reasonably benefit from a trade agreement. He also 
     highlighted the environmental blight and desperate economic 
     and health conditions evident in the trade zones along 
     Mexico's border, commonly known as maquiladoras.
       Rep. LaFalce also pointed to the dangers of macroeconomic 
     instability in Mexico in the context of the trade agreement, 
     accurately predicting a major devaluation of the Mexican 
     peso. The peso devaluation necessitated a massive financial 
     bailout provided by the United States and the International 
     Monetary Fund.
       Industrial Policy Hearings--As Chairman of the Banking 
     Committee's Subcommittee on Economic Stabilization, Rep. 
     LaFalce led an unprecedented effort to examine the need for 
     an industrial policy to enhance U.S. industrial 
     competitiveness vis-a-vis our major trading partners. He held 
     over 30 days of hearings on the subject with over 150 
     witnesses testifying before the Subcommittee. The witnesses 
     represented all walks of life, including: representatives 
     from all levels of government; the business community, 
     including small firms and large corporations; labor leaders; 
     the financial services industry; representatives from 
     industries such as steel, autos, semiconductors, computers, 
     and machine tools; academics; educator; scientists; 
     economists; community and citizens groups; agricultural 
     specialists; representatives of the military and the defense 
     industry. The Buffalo News said these hearings, held over a 
     four-year period ``assembled this century's most complete 
     record on the inter-workings of American manufacturing, 
     monetary and trade policy.''
       In the course of these hearings in 1983, Rep. LaFalce first 
     focused national attention on the economic growth strategies 
     of many academics and other experts who would one day be 
     household names: Laura D'Andrea Tyson, Ira Magaziner, Robert 
     Reich, and a young governor from Arkansas arguing for 
     innovative approaches to economic policy, Bill Clinton.
       Rep. LaFalce introduced legislation to address these 
     industrial competitiveness problems. His bill, H.R. 4360, 
     created (1) a Council on Industrial Competitiveness to 
     provide a forum for labor, business, government, academia, 
     and public interest groups so that they could work 
     cooperatively to develop a competitiveness strategy; (2) a 
     Bank for Industrial Competitiveness to provide financial 
     assistance for the restructuring of basic industries and for 
     the capitalization of new and innovative products and/or 
     technologies; and (3) a Federal Industrial Mortgage 
     Association designed to improve the functioning of capital 
     markets for small- and medium-sized businesses by increasing 
     the availability of long-term capital. The bill was co-
     sponsored by 103 House Members.
       White House Conference on Productivity--As Chairman of the 
     House Banking Committee's Subcommittee on Economic 
     Stabilization, Rep. LaFalce aggressively tackled realistic 
     ways to rectify the nation's dismal performance in those 
     years in the areas of productivity and competitiveness. He 
     worked on the productivity issue for years to focus the 
     attention of the President, leaders of American labor and 
     industry, and all Americans on the importance of increasing 
     U.S. productivity for the nation's economic well-being. In 
     1982, as Chairman of a Small Business Subcommittee, he won 
     enactment of legislation mandating a White House Conference 
     on Productivity, which was held in the fall of 1983 with over 
     1,000 participants. Keynote speakers included President 
     Reagan, Vice President Bush, the Secretaries of State, 
     Commerce, Treasury, and Labor, and Rep. LaFalce.
       Trade with China--Rep. LaFalce's support was instrumental 
     in passage of legislation extending Permanent Normal Trade 
     Relations (PNTR) with China in 2000. He was one of handful of 
     senior Democrats whose support ultimately swayed other 
     Members and led to passage of the historic legislation; his 
     May 2000 speech in support of PNTR was widely cited and 
     reprinted at the time of the debate. Rep. LaFalce argued that 
     engaging with China economically would provide a powerful 
     boost to pro-democracy forces within the country, contrasting 
     the failure of U.S. policy toward Cuba with the benefits of a 
     more open policy toward China. Rep. LaFalce also worked with 
     congressional leaders to ensure that passage of PNTR came 
     with adequate attention and protections in the areas of human 
     rights and import surges.
       Exchange Rates--Rep. LaFalce's concern over the destructive 
     economic impact of currency crises and misaligned exchange 
     rates led to legislative provisions in The Omnibus Trade and 
     Competitiveness Act of 1988, which requires the U.S. Treasury 
     to focus more closely on exchange rates and report to 
     Congress semiannually on the performance of exchange rates. 
     Since then, the Treasury

[[Page E2099]]

     Department has been writing and sending the ``LaFalce 
     Report'' to Congress every six months on currency exchange 
     rates and highlighting potential problems.
       Currency Devaluation--Rep. LaFalce has been a leader in 
     Congress on issues related to the performance of 
     international currencies. He held hearings in 1993 on the 
     probable devaluation of the Mexican peso, which occurred in 
     1994, and has been actively engaged in U.S. responses to 
     currency crises globally over the past 20 years.
       Regarding the Mexican peso devaluation, the late Washington 
     Post columnist, Hobart Rowen, wrote in a February, 1995 
     column: ``Rep. John J. LaFalce has a right to say, `I told 
     you so.' (LaFalce) predicted that peso devaluation was 
     inevitable . . . and begged the Clinton administration to 
     recognize that the North American Free Trade Agreement 
     provided no method to coordinate the two countries' monetary 
     policies. . . . If Clinton and his advisers had paid 
     attention to LaFalce and his supporters, he might not now be 
     engaged in an indefensible bailout of Wall Street investors, 
     including major mutual fund managers who made greedy, high-
     yield gambles in Mexico after the passage of NAFTA.''
       Debt Relief--Rep. LaFalce authored the provision in the 
     1988 Trade Act that would have created an international 
     mechanism to avoid sovereign debt defaults in the aftermath 
     of the Latin American debt crises. Subsequent reluctance by 
     the Reagan Administration ultimately blocked the 
     implementation of the debt mechanism. Yet, nearly 15 years 
     later, the International Monetary Fund introduced a similar 
     proposal to address sovereign debt crises, this time in 
     reaction to a string of debt crises during the 1990s and into 
     2001.
       Ex-Im Bank--Rep. LaFalce was instrumental in the creation 
     and passage of the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 
     2002. The Ex-Im Bank promotes U.S. exports to other countries 
     and has been an engine of job creation in the nation's 
     economy. His work on the 2002 legislation greatly expanded 
     Ex-Im Bank's support for small business exporters, as well as 
     women and minority-owned businesses. In July 2002, Rep. 
     LaFalce was honored by the Coalition for Employment through 
     Exports for his work on the Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization Act 
     and was recognized as a leader in the Congress in promoting 
     U.S. exports.

                            Northern Border

       Throughout his career in Congress, Rep. LaFalce has worked 
     tirelessly to strengthen the U.S.-Canada relationship. From 
     meetings with Canadian Ambassadors to the United States and 
     our nation's ambassadors to Canada, annual meetings of the 
     Can-Am Interparliamentary conference, to frequent 
     conversations with Canadian counterparts across the Niagara 
     River and colleagues in the House and Senate, he has been a 
     leader on every bilateral issue between our two countries 
     that affect his congressional district:
       Northern Border Caucus--Rep. LaFalce is the founding member 
     and Chairman of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, an 
     officially recognized Congressional Member Organization 
     consisting of Members representing the northern border 
     states. The Caucus, which he founded in 1994 when the North 
     American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented, deals 
     with policy concerns and issues that affect U.S.-Canadian 
     relations and the two nations' economic partnership.
       The Caucus has worked to obtain increased funding for the 
     U.S. Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 
     and the Border Patrol for activities along the Northern 
     Border.
       The Caucus was also a major force behind successfully 
     postponing implementation of Section 110 of the 1996 
     Immigration Reform Act, which would have hampered trade and 
     tourist traffic by imposing a cumbersome entry-exit 
     documentation system. In addition, the Caucus has provided 
     Members with numerous forums to discuss their concerns about 
     the border with U.S. and Canadian officials.
       In recognition of his leadership on U.S.-Canadian Border 
     Issues, Rep. LaFalce was honored in 2002 by the Canadian/
     American Border Trade Alliance for his ``many meaningful 
     contributions to the improvement of U.S.-Canadian Trade, 
     Transportation and Border Management.''
       Repeal of New Entry-Exit Implementation System, Section 
     110--The 1996 Immigration Reform Act directed the INS to 
     implement a new entry-exit documentation system at points of 
     entry along the nation's borders. Because of concerns about 
     the harmful impact on trade and tourism that this would have 
     on Western New York, repeal of Section 110 was the top 
     legislative priority of local chambers of commerce in the 
     Buffalo-Niagara region. Rep. LaFalce authored the legislation 
     in 1997 to repeal the implementation of Section 110 and later 
     negotiated a 30-month implementation delay just days before 
     the original start date of September 30, 1998. But it 
     remained clear that a delay could not sufficiently satisfy 
     his concerns that the INS might develop an entry-exit system 
     at the border that would prove disastrous to the people of 
     New York and other northern border states. Throughout the 
     spring of 2000, Rep. LaFalce negotiated with a bipartisan 
     group of Members the ``Section 110 Reform Act,'' a de facto 
     repeal of this injurious provision. In June, 2000, the 
     President signed the act into law and ended the threat to our 
     border.
       Commuter Students--In August 2002, Rep. LaFalce 
     successfully persuaded the Bush Administration to reverse the 
     INS decision to prevent part-time students from Canada and 
     Mexico from commuting to classes at U.S. colleges and 
     universities along the border. When the INS announced its 
     sudden change of policy in May 2002, he immediately 
     introduced legislation in Congress to ensure that Mexican and 
     Canadian part-time students could continue to enroll in 
     educational institutions across the border. As Chairman of 
     the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, he also mobilized 
     30 of his colleagues and New York's two Senators to join in 
     demanding an immediate reversal of the INS decision. On 
     August 24, the Bush Administration relented and announced 
     that the INS would reverse its previous decision so that 
     part-time students would again be able to enroll in U.S. 
     academic institutions.
       NEXUS--NEXUS is an inspection program that allows pre-
     screened, low-risk travelers to be processed with little or 
     no delay by U.S. and Canadian border officials. On April 29, 
     2002, Rep. LaFalce urged the INS and the Customs Service to 
     select Buffalo for the next implementation of NEXUS. The 
     agencies agreed. NEXUS enrollment centers opened in Buffalo 
     in October, 2002, and will be operational at the Peace Bridge 
     beginning in January, 2003. It will be expanded to the 
     Lewiston-Queenstown Bridge and the Rainbow Bridge (and 
     potentially the Whirlpool Bridge) by spring of 2003.
       Niagara Bridges--Rep. LaFalce authored special legislation 
     permitting the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission (NFBC) to move 
     forward with $121 million in bridge improvements in 1991. 
     Specifically, he worked to amend federal law to lift the 
     interest rate cap on NFBC bonds and to make the interest on 
     NFBC bonds tax-exempt. The changes allowed the NFBC to move 
     forward with its plans to modernize and renovate the Rainbow, 
     Whirlpool and Lewiston-Queenston bridges at a cost of $121 
     million.
       In June, 2002, Rep. LaFalce helped bring $5.1 million in 
     federal transportation grants to Western New York for 
     upgrading and strengthening U.S.-Canadian border crossings to 
     help keep pace with the growing number of trucks and 
     passenger vehicles using those bridges each day.
       Border Staffing Levels--With respect to staffing and 
     infrastructure concerns along the Northern Border and in 
     Western New York specifically, Rep. LaFalce has been the most 
     active and vociferous Member in Congress. During the 106th 
     Congress alone, in order to highlight the needs of the 
     Niagara River bridges, he met with Raymond Kelly, 
     Commissioner, U.S. Customs Service; Bob Trotter, Northern 
     Border Coordinator, U.S. Customs Service; Elisabeth Bresee, 
     Assistant Secretary (Enforcement), Treasury Department; Doris 
     Meissner, Commissioner, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization 
     Service; and Jack Lew, Director, Office of Management and 
     Budget.
       As a result of his efforts as co-chair of the Northern 
     Border Caucus, the USA-PATRIOT Act, signed into law on 
     October 26, 2001, included provisions to triple the 
     authorization for staffing for the INS and the Customs 
     Service for the Northern Border. As a result, the FY02 
     appropriations bill included funding for 348 new INS border 
     ports-of-entry inspectors, an additional $55.8 million for 
     additional INS inspectors and support staff on the Northern 
     Border, and least 142 Border Patrol agents at the Northern 
     Border. In addition, the Customs Service received funding for 
     more than 300 Customs officials at the Northern Border. 
     Finally, $2.3 million to support 100 National Guard troops 
     for three months to enhance security and expedite U.S. 
     Customs Service checks at U.S.-Canadian ports of entry was 
     also appropriated for FY02.

                     International financial issues

       Rep. LaFalce distinguished himself throughout his career 
     for his leadership on international financial, trade, and 
     development issues. His work in these areas reflects both his 
     moral sense and mastery of complex financial and economic 
     issues. His ability to held the cause of social justice with 
     an understanding of global markets has made him a uniquely 
     effective advocate and policymaker in areas such as debt 
     relief for poor countries and the resolution of international 
     financial crises.
       The Multilateral Development Banks and the International 
     Monetary Fund--Rep. LaFalce has been a leader in crafting 
     U.S. policy in the Multilateral Development Banks and the 
     International Monetary Fund (IMF). As the Senior Democrat on 
     the House Banking Committee, he helped craft landmark reforms 
     in the IMF and the World Bank during the 1990s, bringing more 
     transparency and accountability to the institutions and 
     focusing their missions to bring greater effectiveness in 
     achieving global economic development and poverty reduction.
       Rep. LaFalce also co-authored the bill creating the 
     European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). This 
     regional multilateral development bank was established in 
     1991 when communism was crumbling in central and eastern 
     Europe and ex-soviet countries needed support to nurture a 
     new private sector in a democratic environment. Through his 
     travels in the region after the fall of communism, Rep. 
     LaFalce recognized the need for a private sector development 
     institutions and worked aggressively in the Congress to 
     authorize creation of the EBRD. Today the EBRD is helping to 
     build market economies and democracies in 27

[[Page E2100]]

     countries from central Europe to central Asia.
       Third World Debt Relief--During 2000, Rep. LaFalce fought 
     hard and successfully to pass historic legislation on 
     international debt relief. Although few believed that 
     legislation could be enacted to cancel the oppressive debts 
     of highly indebted poor countries, he joined with the 
     Chairman of the House Banking Committee to introduce H.R. 
     1095, the Debt Relief for Poverty Reduction Act of 1999. In 
     2000, Rep. LaFalce's efforts were instrumental in securing 
     $435 million for debt relief in the FY 2001 Foreign 
     Operations Appropriations Act.
       In helping to make the debt relief initiative a reality, 
     Rep. LaFalce worked closely with the Episcopal Church, the 
     Catholic Church, and relief groups like Oxfam. For his 
     leadership on debt relief and his humanitarian work in 
     Congress, Rep. LaFalce was honored by both Bread for the 
     World and Oxfam America, two major global anti-poverty 
     organizations.
       Debt-for-Equity/Environment--Rep. LaFalce was a leader in 
     the Congress in addressing the Latin American debt crisis of 
     the 1980s. He fought for language in the 1988 Trade Act that 
     would have created an international mechanism to address debt 
     problems. President Reagan vetoed an earlier version of the 
     Trade Act, in part over opposition to the LaFalce debt plan. 
     As signed into law, the debt language in the 1988 Trade Act 
     was substantially weakened due to the Reagan Administration's 
     influence.
       Rep. LaFalce also promoted innovative debt relief 
     strategies such as debt for equity and debt for environment 
     ``swaps,'' which provided debt relief for developing 
     countries while also ensuring sound economic and 
     environmental policies in these countries. After traveling to 
     post-communist Central and Eastern Europe, Rep. LaFalce 
     introduced legislation in 1990 directing the Secretary of the 
     Treasury to negotiate for the establishment within the 
     European Bank for Reconstruction and Development of: (1) an 
     Environmental Trust Fund to make loans available at 
     concessional interest rates for environmental protection 
     projects; and (2) requirements for environmental impact 
     assessments of all proposed operations with potential 
     environmental impacts. The legislation also authorized the 
     President to permit Central European countries (defined for 
     purposes of this Act as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and 
     Yugoslavia) with emerging market economies to pay debt owed 
     to the United States into local currency trust accounts to be 
     used for environmental protection and economic development 
     projects.
       Brady Plan--Rep. LaFalce long argued for a new regime for 
     Third World debt restructuring, beginning during the time 
     James Baker was Secretary of the Treasury. He was delighted 
     when Nicholas Brady was appointed Treasury Secretary by 
     President Reagan and called Rep. LaFalce to his office to 
     discuss debt restructuring. Rep. LaFalce had authored an op-
     ed on the subject in the September/October 1988 issue of The 
     International Economy, in which he urged the new Treasury 
     Secretary to ignore the advice predecessor Baker on Third 
     World Debt relief. The Administration subsequently adopted 
     Rep. LaFalce's recommendations to devise and implement a new 
     regime for debt restructuring, which came to be known as the 
     ``Brady Plan.'' In arguing for the importance of debt 
     forgiveness tied to sound policy reform in poor countries, 
     Rep. LaFalce would help lay the groundwork for the landmark 
     Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative a decade later.
       AIDS Trust Fund--Rep. LaFalce was instrumental in passage 
     of legislation in 2000 to create an international trust fund 
     in support of efforts to eradicate AIDS, tuberculosis, and 
     malaria globally. The fund will use public and private 
     contributions to assist poor countries in implementing 
     programs to address these devastating diseases. So far, 
     financial commitments to the fund from door countries and 
     private institutions have exceeded $1.5 billion.
       Human Rights and International Finance--Rep. LaFalce has 
     been a leading voice for the cause of human rights across the 
     globe. As Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, 
     Rep. LaFalce was actively engaged in promoting human rights 
     in Mexico, meeting with key human rights activists such as 
     Jorge Castaneda. He convened hearings to examine the 
     mistreatment of activists by the Mexican government. Concern 
     about human rights abuses in Mexico contributed to his 
     decision to oppose the North American Free Trade Agreement.
       As Ranking Democrat on the former House Banking Committee, 
     Rep. LaFalce won enactment of landmark human rights 
     provisions contained in authorizing legislation for the IMF, 
     the World Bank, and the regional development banks, as well 
     as in legislation to forgive debt in poor countries. As a 
     result of these provisions, all government-sponsored 
     international financial institutions are now required to 
     incorporate human rights considerations into their 
     oppositions, and debt relief is only provided countries with 
     acceptable human rights records. Rep. LaFalce was also 
     successful in creating a commission to monitor human rights 
     in China as part of legislation authorizing permanent normal 
     trade relations.
       In 2000, Rep. LaFalce led congressional efforts to ratify a 
     new International Labor Organization Convention on abusive 
     child labor. Rep. LaFalce stood at President Clinton's side 
     as he signed the ratification legislation into law in 
     Seattle.
       Privatization--In the midst of rapid economic change in the 
     former communist countries during the 1990s, Rep. LaFalce 
     became a leading proponent for the view that privatization of 
     state-owned industries, while often necessary, needed to be 
     implemented in the context of sound regulatory regimes. He 
     believed that the architects and proponents of privatization 
     schemes, both in the post-communist countries and in 
     institutions like the IMF and World Bank, were exclusively 
     focused on the efficiencies achieved through privatization, 
     paying no attention to equity concerns. Without adequate 
     anti-corruption measures, protections for workers, and small 
     business owners and investors, Rep. LaFalce argued that rapid 
     privatization could ultimately leave the countries in worse 
     shape. He spoke out against ``nomenklatura'' privatization in 
     Russia and ``patron'' privatization in Mexico, first as 
     Chairman of the Small Business Committee in 1994 and later 
     during hearings in the House Banking Committee.
       Rep. LaFalce's concern that reckless privatization programs 
     were being supported through U.S. foreign aid and through the 
     international financial institutions (IFIs) led him to 
     introduce privatization provisions in authorizing legislation 
     for the IFIs in 2001. His concern was confirmed recently by 
     analysis released by the International Monetary fund, which 
     indicated that failed privatization efforts during the 1990s 
     were the result of inadequate regulatory oversight, 
     Reflecting Rep. LaFalce's earlier statements, the IMF study 
     suggested that the IFIs were too quick to support rapid 
     privatization without adequate regulation.

                           Terrorism response

       Rep. LaFalce authored several key bills to address the 
     impacts of the September 11th terrorist attacks on our 
     nation. He authored key sections of the anti-terrorist 
     ``PATRIOT Act,'' primarily those dealing with money 
     laundering. He played a leading role in House passage of 
     legislation to provide for continued insurance coverage 
     against terrorist attacks. And he worked with the Bush 
     Administration to secure disaster assistance for small 
     businesses.
       The USA PATRIOT Act--In the wake of the September 11, 2001 
     terrorist attacks, Rep. LaFalce called on President Bush to 
     take bold steps in the international arena to support 
     enactment of tougher anti-money laundering laws here at home. 
     He called for the passage of an anti-money laundering bill he 
     had worked closely with the Clinton Administration and Sen. 
     John Kerry (D-MA) to introduce during the 106th Congress. 
     Rep. LaFalce successfully shepherded his legislation into law 
     in the 107th Congress. The legislation he authored was 
     incorporated as a separate title in the landmark USA PATRIOT 
     Act (PL 107-56), a comprehensive law intended to bolster the 
     U.S. government's ability to fight terrorism. Rep. LaFalce's 
     legislation represented the PATRIOT Act's ``financial war on 
     terrorism'' component.
       His legislation provided the United States with new tools 
     to combat money laundering threats from overseas, and to 
     prevent the use of the domestic financial system by money 
     launderers, terrorists, and corrupt foreign officials. The 
     bill specifically addressed the abuse of offshore secrecy 
     havens by criminals and terrorists who seek to launder their 
     illicit monetary gains. By strengthening the Treasury 
     Secretary's ability to curb terrorists's abuse of offshore 
     secret accounts, the legislation authored by Rep. LaFalce 
     should help immensely to dismantle existing terrorists' 
     financial networks--a key battle in the global war on 
     terrorism.
       The law provides the Treasury Secretary with the authority 
     and discretion to address specific money laundering 
     infractions, which U.S. law enforcement agencies could not do 
     under the previous legal regime. That regime offered limited 
     options for law enforcement: the Treasury Secretary could 
     either issue informational advisories to U.S. financial 
     institutions about specific offshore jurisdictions or take 
     the more extreme approach of invoking sweeping and often 
     disruptive economic sanctions. The new law allows the 
     Secretary to identify specific overseas financial 
     institutions as engaging in money laundering and to prevent 
     U.S. institutions from doing business with such institutions.
       Rep. LaFalce's legislation provided the Treasury Secretary 
     new discretionary authority, which can be invoked under 
     certain select circumstances. For example, the Secretary 
     could use this authority if he or she were to identify an 
     area of ``primary money laundering concern'' offshore. If 
     invoked by the Treasury Secretary, this discretionary tool 
     would only apply to the overseas activities of U.S. financial 
     institutions, not domestic activities. The approach taken in 
     the LaFalce legislation offers the kind of regulatory 
     flexibility, which did not exist previously, needed to tackle 
     a fast-moving and remarkably adaptable class of criminals, 
     particularly terrorists. More recently, various provisions in 
     the legislation have been successfully used by U.S. law 
     enforcement officials in their efforts to track down the 
     sources of funding for Al-Qaeda and other terrorist 
     organizations.
       Small Business Relief--In the immediate aftermath of 
     September 11th, Rep. LaFalce introduced legislation to help 
     small businesses impacted by the terrorist attacks. The 
     ``Terrorist Disaster Relief for Small Business Act'' 
     addresses the economic hardships of small businesses who are 
     suffering ripple effects from the September 11th attacks. 
     Just weeks after Rep. LaFalce's introduction of the bill, the 
     Bush Administration

[[Page E2101]]

     undertook regulatory changes to make more small businesses 
     eligible for disaster assistance. The Administration's action 
     expanded eligibility for loans to disaster-impacted 
     businesses at interest rates as low as 4 percent, and for 
     terms of up to 30 years. The Bush Administration has 
     indicated that it plans to allocate funds in the FY 2002 
     budget to leverage approximately $1 billion in new Small 
     Business Administration disaster loans.
       Victory Bonds--Following the September 11th terrorist 
     attacks, Rep. LaFalce received numerous calls from his 
     constituents about how they could help in the recovery 
     efforts, and how they could show their support against 
     international terrorists. Rep. LaFalce heeded these calls by 
     immediately introducing legislation to authorize the issuance 
     of special ``Victory'' savings bonds. The effort was modeled 
     on a proud tradition in America that dates back to the Second 
     World War, when government bond sales generated over $200 
     billion to fund the war effort. Recently, the U.S. Treasury 
     responded by re-designating its current series EE savings 
     bonds as ``Patriot Bonds.'' This move is intended to 
     encourage Americans to contribute to the government's anti-
     terrorism campaign.
       Terrorism Reinsurance--Rep. LaFalce played a leading role 
     in the House's passage of legislation that would provide for 
     the continuation of insurance coverage against terrorist 
     attacks, which was in danger of disappearing, or being too 
     costly, after September 11th. Agreement has been reached on 
     the bill and the conference report should be approved in 
     November.
       Islam Resolution/Imam Guest Chaplain--Rep. LaFalce has 
     always been a strong advocate for freedom of religious 
     expression in America. In the aftermath of September 11, he 
     grew increasingly concerned that this precious freedom might 
     be compromised, particularly with respect to Muslims, out of 
     fear and in the name of ``defense against terrorism.'' In 
     November 2001, Rep. LaFalce introduced H. Res. 280, a 
     resolution recognizing Islam as one of the great religions of 
     the world and commending Muslims on their faith, particularly 
     during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. At Rep. LaFalce's 
     request, the U.S. House of Representatives marked the 
     commencement of Ramadan for the very first time, when, with 
     the concurrence of Speaker Dennis Hastert, he arranged an 
     invitation to Muslim Chaplain at Georgetown University, Imam 
     Yahya Hendi, to offer the opening prayer before the U.S. 
     House of Representatives.

                       Italian-American heritage

       Rep. LaFalce is one of our nation's leading Italian-
     Americans. Over the years, he has been showered with honors 
     for his leadership, his integrity, and his dedication to 
     those he serves.
       Italian-American Heritage Award--Rep. LaFalce received the 
     ``Italian Heritage Award'' from the Italian Heritage and 
     Culture Club of Western New York. The club then renamed the 
     award the ``JOHN J. LaFALCE Italian Heritage Award'' for 
     future recipients.
       Delegation Dean--As the most senior Italian-American 
     serving in the U.S. Congress, Rep. LaFalce was the Dean of 
     the Italian-American Congressional Delegation. In 2001, he 
     led a fact-finding trip to Italy sponsored by the National 
     Italian-American Foundation (NIAF), the leading advocacy 
     group for Americans of Italian descent. The LaFalce/NIAF 
     delegation traveled to Rome, the Vatican and the southern 
     region of Calabria.
       In the village of Marcedusa, in the Province of Catanzaro, 
     in the Region of Calabria, Rep. LaFalce was made an honorary 
     citizen of both Marcedusa and Calabria. His paternal 
     grandparents--Giovanni LaFalce and Concetta Mancuso--came 
     from Calabria, were married and lived in Marcedusa 
     (population 500), before emigrating to the United States. 
     While he appreciated his honorary citizenship, he especially 
     prized the gift of a bottle of olive oil made from the olives 
     of the trees planted and nourished by his grandfather.
       The pastor of St. Andrea the Apostle Church in Marcedusa, 
     where Rep. LaFalce's grandparents were married, showed him a 
     statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that was bought by his 
     grandparents and donated to the Church in gratitude for the 
     blessings they had received in America and in appreciation to 
     the people of Marcedusa who had given them their roots.
       Order of Merit--Rep. LaFalce received Italy's highest rank 
     of decoration, the Order of Merit, from Italian Ambassador to 
     the U.S. Boris Biancheri. The Ambassador journeyed to Western 
     New York to make the presentation, awarded for Rep. LaFalce's 
     accomplishments as a leading Italian-American. The award 
     named him a Knight-Commander of the Order of Merit of the 
     Republic of Italy, or ``Commendatore,'' that country's 
     highest civilian honor.

                    Caucus/conference participation

       U.S.-Canada Inter-Parliamentary Group--Rep. LaFalce has 
     been an active member of the United states--Canada Inter-
     Parliamentary Group. The group meets annually to create a 
     network among Canadian and American legislators to discuss 
     issues of mutual interest in the areas of Trade and Economic 
     Issues, International Relations, and Transborder Issues.
       Congressional Study Group on Germany--Rep. LaFalce has long 
     been a member of the Congressional Study Group on Germany; in 
     1999 he served as vice chair, and in 2000 as chairman. The 
     group meets once a year alternating between Germany and the 
     U.S. In 2000, when Rep. LaFalce was chairman, the members of 
     the German Bundestag came to the annual conference in Niagara 
     Falls, New York.
       Argentina Task Force--In 2002, Rep. LaFalce was asked by 
     the Inter-American Dialogue to co-chair an elite group of 
     policymakers charged with offering recommendations to resolve 
     Argentina's economic crisis. Rep. LaFalce co-chairs the task 
     force with Ambassador Carla Hills. In his appointment as co-
     chair, Rep. LaFalce was recognized for his leadership on 
     international debt issues and his expertise in Latin America.
       Bilderberg Conference--Rep. LaFalce was the only Member of 
     the U.S. House of Representatives to participate as a member 
     of the fiftieth meeting of the Bilderberg Conference, held in 
     Virginia from May 30th--June 2nd 2002. The Bilderberg Meeting 
     gathered 115 of the world's most influential leaders from 20 
     countries to discuss a variety of national and international 
     issues. Participants included leaders of government, 
     business, and academia, such as Henry Kissinger, David 
     Rockefeller, Donald Rumsfeld, Larry Summers, Carla Hills, 
     Alan Greenspan, Fannie Mae Chairman Franklin Raines, World 
     Bank President James Wolfensohn, DaimlerChrysler Chairman 
     Jurgen Schrempp, and Deutsche Bank Chairman Hilmar Kopper. 
     The next meeting of the Bilderberg Conference will be in May, 
     2003 in Versailles.
       Diabetes Caucus--Rep. LaFalce is Co-Vice Chair and a 
     founding member of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, one of 
     the largest and most influential congressional organizations. 
     Founded in 1995, the Diabetes Caucus strives to increase the 
     awareness of diabetes in Congress and to promote greater 
     research into diabetes and diabetes-related complications. 
     Due to Rep. LaFalce and the influence of the Caucus, Congress 
     established the Diabetes Working Group to advise the NIH on 
     research needs and priorities. Most recently, in October, 
     2002, Rep. LaFalce and his colleagues in the Caucus 
     introduced the Pancreatic Islet Cell Transplantation Act to 
     help advance islet cell transplantation, the most exciting 
     advance in diabetes research since the discovery of insulin 
     in 1921. Rep. LaFalce and the Caucus have secured millions in 
     federal funding for Medicare coverage of diabetes education 
     and supplies, research and treatment initiatives through the 
     National Institutes of Health, the Departments of Health and 
     Human Services, Veterans Administration, Indian Health 
     Service and the Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service.

                     Sampling of honors and awards

       Honorary Doctorates--Rep. LaFalce has received four 
     honorary degrees from universities that awarded him for his 
     public service, his integrity, and his leadership.
       In 1991, the Villanova University School of Law recognized 
     him with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree. In 1990, Canisius 
     College awarded Rep. LaFalce on honorary Doctor of Humane 
     Letters degree for his ``Extraordinary leadership as a Member 
     of Congress and champion of the citizens of Western New 
     York.''
       St. John's University awarded him an honorary Doctor of 
     Laws degree in 1989, emphasizing in their commendation that 
     Rep. LaFalce proves that ``public service in a democracy can 
     be the most noble of professions.''
       Niagara University also awarded him an honorary Doctor of 
     Laws in 1979. The Niagara University citation read in part: 
     ``...Three qualities emerge as best describing the man: 
     honesty, energy and conviction. His honesty is attested by 
     the estimation that he knows who he is, whom he represents, 
     and what he is doing in Congress. His energy is realized in 
     the extent and diversity of his involvement and legislative 
     efforts...as well as his thoroughness, his dogged 
     determination to see a matter through to its completion. His 
     conviction is demonstrated by a creed which avows: regardless 
     of which side of the aisle it originated, `Truth is truth, 
     Justice will out, and the Law must be upheld'.''
       Homeownership Alliance--the ``Homeownership Hero'' award 
     was presented to Rep. LaFalce by the Homeownership Alliance 
     to recognize his ``outstanding contribution to the expansion 
     of homeownership opportunities for all Americans.'' 2002
       Financial Services Roundtable--Rep. LaFalce was honored by 
     the Financial Services roundtable with its ``American 
     Financial Leadership Award'' for ``his superb leadership...in 
     reforming the financial services industry which is so vital 
     to the economy of our state and nation.'' 2000
       National Association of Federal Credit Unions--A special 
     career recognition award was given to Rep. LaFalce by the 
     National Association of Federal Credit Unions ``for being a 
     champion for federal credit unions and their members for more 
     than twenty-five years.'' 2002
       Oxfam International & Bread for the World--For his 
     successful humanitarian work in Congress on behalf of debt 
     relief for the world's poor, Rep. LaFalce was honored by 
     Oxfam International and Bread for the World, two global anti-
     poverty organizations, ``for helping break the cycle of 
     poverty.'' 1999
       National Association of Realtors--Rep. LaFalce was awarded 
     the National Association of Realtors' ``Legislative 
     Leadership Award'' in the 106th Congress ``In appreciation 
     for his

[[Page E2102]]

     outstanding leadership in supporting legislation to help 
     families achieve the American dream of homeownership.''
       Center for Health, Environment and Justice--On the 20th 
     anniversary of the Love Canal crisis in his district, Rep. 
     LaFalce was honored ``for his significant role in assisting 
     residents to obtain justice'' and for his ``tireless efforts 
     to move various agencies at all levels of government that was 
     above and beyond the call of duty.'' 1998
       New York Credit Union--Rep. LaFalce was awarded the 
     ``Freedom of Consumer Choice Award'' by the New York Credit 
     Union Campaign for Consumer Choice ``for actively defending 
     the rights of consumers to choose their financial 
     institutions and for protecting the future of America's 
     credit unions.'' 1998
       Small Business Council of America--In recognition of his 
     work as Chairman of the Small Business Committee, where he 
     wrote laws creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the 
     small business sector, Rep. LaFalce received the 
     ``Congressional Award'' from the Small Business Council of 
     America, which read in part: ``when others trample asunder 
     the rights and best interests of small business, he steps 
     forward and moves mountains.''
       Associated General Contractors (NY State Chapter)--In 1975, 
     Rep. LaFalce had the distinction of being the first of the 
     newly-elected Members to have a bill he authored signed into 
     law. That bill preserved and created more than one-million 
     construction jobs--300,000 in New York State alone. For his 
     work, the New York State Chapter of the Associated General 
     Contractors honored Rep. LaFalce with its annual ``Man of the 
     Year'' award.
       American Diabetes Association--As Chairman and Vice-
     Chairman of the House Diabetes Caucus, Rep. LaFalce was 
     honored twice by the American Diabetes Association with its 
     Valor Award in recognition of his continuing efforts to 
     secure increased funding for diabetes research and ``for his 
     outstanding service to people with diabetes.'' 2000, 2002
       National Multiple Sclerosis Society--Rep. LaFalce was 
     honored as ``Congressman of the Year'' by the National MS 
     Society for his ``deep personal appreciation and commitment 
     to the needs of people with MS who have lost access to 
     breakthrough treatments because they are dependent on 
     Medicare reimbursements.'' 1995
       National Sleep Foundation--The National Sleep Foundation 
     awarded Rep. LaFalce its very first Public Policy Leadership 
     Award in 2001 for his efforts in bringing the problem of 
     sleep disorders to the nation's attention. He secured 
     $125,000 in federal funds for a sleep disorder educational 
     program to be conducted jointly by the University at Buffalo 
     Medical School, Mount St. Mary's Hospital Sleep Disorder 
     Center in Lewiston, and Millard Fillmore-Gates Hospital's 
     Sleep Disorder Center in Buffalo.
       National Association of Women Business Owners--Rep. LaFalce 
     received the ``Congressional Advocate of the Year'' award 
     from the National Association of Women Business Owners for 
     his work in enacting the Women's Business Ownership Act, 
     which expanded federal assistance programs to businesses 
     owned by women.
       New York State Association of Renewal and Housing 
     Officials, Inc.--Rep. LaFalce was recognized by the NYSARHO 
     ``for his outstanding contributions to national housing and 
     community development programs while serving as a member of 
     the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Development 
     and in appreciation for his cooperation with the committees, 
     officers, and members of this Association.''
       New York State Realtors--Rep. LaFalce was honored by the 
     New York Realtors for his ``consistent contributions to the 
     development of the community by participation in civic 
     affairs and by leadership and dedication to making America 
     better.''
       Housing Agencies of New York State--Rep. LaFalce received 
     the New York state Housing Agencies' Housing award ``in 
     recognition of and appreciation of your continued support of 
     those programs which provide housing opportunities for low 
     and moderate income people in the United States.''

     

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