University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Thomas R. Carper
Congressional Papers

See below for collection citation and reference information.

I.B.1. Committee Work -- Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs, 1983-1992

+ Series I.B.1. -- Scope and Content Note
+ Series I.B.1. -- Contents List

Extent: 14 linear ft. (10 linear ft. and 43 volumes)

Boxes: 7 - 20

Contents: Correspondence, memoranda, clippings, bills and amendments of legislation, reports, mark-ups, meeting notes, publications, testimonies, pamphlets, studies, drafts, reference materials, bound volumes of hearings.

Arrangement: Reflecting the work of several legislative assistants, there is no consistent filing scheme throughout the series. Some files are arranged chronologically by congressional session, with subseries by subcommittee jurisdiction or topic. Some files in this series are arranged by subcommittee jurisdiction; a list of Carper's subcommittees is found at the end of this series description as well as in Appendix B. Many files are arranged in topical subseries, such as those pertaining to Flood Insurance, Housing Bills, and FIRREA, as originally maintained by staff. Late accessions of the papers came from legislative assistant Susan Frank, and remain in discrete groups as noted in the contents list.


With liberal incorporation laws, Delaware is the on-paper home to half of the companies on the Fortune 500 list and over 200,000 other smaller corporations. As a representative from a state with such strong ties to financial institutions and economic development, Tom Carper had a vested interest in membership on the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee. He served on various Banking subcommittees, which changed from session to session of Congress. These subcommittees included Financial Institutions, Regulations and Insurance; Housing and Community Development; International Monetary Policy; and Economic Stabilization. Significant legislation documented in this series includes Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA); Flood Insurance; the 1991 Banking Reform Bill; and Housing and Community Development bills.

As a member of the Housing and Community Development Subcommittee, Carper sponsored several pieces of legislation relating to public housing. These bills included Lead Paint Abatement in Public Housing, Tenant Income Verification, Family Self-Sufficiency, Mixed Populations in Public Housing, and Prepayment and Preservation, as well as the large Housing Bills that came before the House in 1990 and 1992.

Congressman Carper's concern for residents of public housing is apparent in both the Lead Paint Abatement and the Family Self-Sufficiency Act legislation. Lead-based paint was commonly found in public housing, especially in older units dating from the early 1940s. When children living in public housing began to get sick in the 1980s, tests revealed high lead blood levels, indicating lead-based paint as the cause. Carper's tenacity, with the help of Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.), led to Delaware becoming the first state in the nation to abate all lead paint in public housing. Documentation on the court case that illuminated the need for action on the lead paint is included in these files. The case concerned Stephen Jackson, a child who ingested lead-based paint over a period of time, while playing at home, and suffered irreversible brain damage.

His mother, with the assistance of the Legal Aid Society in Wilmington, pursued a suit against the Wilmington Housing Authority (WHA), a part of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency. Ms. Jackson cited WHA with negligence because of their slow response to her request and her son's doctor's order for abatement after Steven was hospitalized. In 1984, a Delaware judge ruled that WHA had to comply with the Lead Paint Poisoning Protection (LPPP) Act and abate all public housing known to contain lead-based paint. Delaware was the first state in the nation to do so, accomplishing the task by 1987.

In Congress, both Carper and Biden were adamant that HUD pursue abatement as a preventative, rather than remedial, action. HUD preferred a "health" approach to abatement, requiring lead removal only after illness or high lead blood levels had already occurred, while Carper and Biden advocated a "housing" approach, which called for abatement in all public housing regardless of age of inhabitants or signs of illness. Carper and Biden launched a successful national initiative to block HUD's "health" approach.

Several other issues involving public housing are included in the files. The Family Self-Sufficiency Act which was designed to enable families living in public housing to slowly begin to get off assistance and buy their own homes. Tenant Income Verification legislation sponsored by Carper provided for ensuring that those who applied for and received assistance from HUD for public housing were indeed needy. Fraudulent income reporting had allowed some individuals to receive federal assistance for housing when in reality these people's incomes exceeded the level required for the assistance. Carper's legislation provided for the use of social security or employer identification numbers to corroborate eligibility.

Another Carper bill, Mixed Populations in Public Housing, dealt with federal mandates requiring mixed-age populations, comprising senior citizens and disabled young adults, to live in the same public housing. When crime began to rise in areas with mixed population housing, communities raised an outcry and Carper responded by drafting legislation that would allow these housing communities to keep their federal funding without the need to maintain the mixed populations. " Prepayment and Preservation" legislation was designed to preserve federally funded housing at current levels. Housing bills for 1990 and 1992 and supporting materials complete this section of the series.

Reform of the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP) was a major piece of legislation during the 102nd Congress, spurred by the damage caused by recent national disasters such as Hurricane Hugo. At the time, communities not participating in the NFIP were still eligible for Federal subsidies and disaster assistance. Congress wanted to reform the NFIP to insure that communities would have to participate in the NFIP in order to receive Federal flood insurance. In 1989, Carper introduced The National Flood and Erosion Mitigation Act of 1989, H.R. 3456, and Congressman Doug Bereuter (R-Neb.) introduced The National Flood Insurance Compliance, Mitigation and Erosion Act of 1990, H.R. 4461. Carper's bill called for measures to encourage increased participation in the NFIP program, reduce repetitive flood insurance claims, and provide for an erosion management program. Bereuter's bill focused on the erosion problem and was based on the National Research Council's report to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Carper's bill called for the establishment of ten-, thirty-, and sixty-year setback zones in coastal areas. A setback zone is an area along the waterfront that is threatened by erosion. These zones are created to lessen the probability that structures built behind them will fall into the water. Theoretically, a structure placed behind the 60-year setback zone would be safe from erosion damage for approximately sixty years. No structure seaward of the ten-year setback would qualify for federal flood insurance. This did not prohibit development, only federal insurance coverage. Carper's bill also repealed the Upton-Jones Amendment, which had allowed for destruction and demolition of homes in an undefined area of imminent collapse. It also specified that structures seaward of the thirty-year setback line could be relocated landward of the sixty-year setback line and qualify for NFIP. Demolition could occur if relocation costs exceeded the value of the structure, the structure could not be safely moved, and other circumstances made demolition necessary. In order to receive mortgages from federally insured or supervised lenders, Carper made participation mandatory for structures in flood hazard zones. He made it the responsibility of the lender to notify owners that their property was in a special flood hazard zone and set penalties for lenders who did not require flood insurance. Finally, Carper called for FEMA to establish a National Flood Mitigation Fund for loans and assistance for flood mitigation, administrative expenses, and assistance to states involved in the Flood Mitigation Plan.

No action was taken on either H.R. 3456 or H.R. 4461 during the 101st Congress. However, in the 102nd Congress, Congressman Ben Erdreich (D-Ala.), Chairman of the Subcommittee of Policy Research and Insurance, introduced H.R. 1236, a modified version of Carper's bill. Carper was a co-sponsor of the bill. H.R. 1236 passed the House on May 1, 1991. It was introduced into the Senate by John Kerry (D-Mass.) as S. 1650. In the Senate, the bill came under attack by C.M. "Bud" Schauerte, Director of the Federal Insurance Agency and Senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.). Schauerte and Gramm claimed that the NFIP did not need reforming and that the bill was an attempt to exert federal control over private development in coastal regions. At the end of 1992, when Carper left office, no action had been taken on this bill in the Senate.

A significant amount of files in the series are devoted to the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) of 1989. The files contain detailed information on the progress of this large and complicated piece of legislation. Arranged by title number and also by subpart of each title, FIRREA was a response to major problems in the financial industry during the 1980s. FIRREA was signed into law in August of 1989. Carper's work in the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) legislation of 1989 is well-documented.

Officially described as a bill to "reform, recapitalize, and consolidate the Federal deposit insurance system, to enhance the regulatory and enforcement powers of Federal financial institutions regulatory agencies, and for other purposes," the bill's intent was to provide much-needed regulation of financial institutions after the collapse of several saving and loans (S&Ls, also known as thrifts), in the early 1980s. The legislation would also ensure that S&Ls were made to adhere to the same capital standards as commercial banks.

The Reagan administration's push for deregulation of S&Ls in the 1980s contributed to the crisis in the S&L industry. Inadequate bank examination and supervision procedures, and inadequate capital were other factors leading to the crisis. The recession of the early 1980s led to economic collapse in several parts of the country, especially in oil-producing regions. Subsequent fraud and mismanagement in the thrift industry was another problem compounding the S&L crisis. The purpose of FIRREA was to bail out failed institutions via mergers, sales, or liquidations; to set capital standards for thrifts; to restructure and enforce regulatory procedures in the S&L industry; and to increase insurance payments by thrifts and commercial banks to assist in the bailout. With deregulation had come increased opportunities for S&Ls to lend in areas other than residential real estate and this was an area which caused for so many failures. The risks taken by thrifts in non-residential real estate, mishandling of funds, and fraud also contributed to thrift failures.

FIRREA files detail major components of the bill, known as titles. There is extensive documentation of amendments, including several by Carper. Carper's main concerns were with improving bank supervision and examination, and setting adequate capital standards. Amendments offered by Carper provided for setting standards for examiners and ensuring they were qualified via testing and education. Capital standards, which refers to the amount of real money with which a bank operates, was another area of contention. Many banks had taken on failed institutions and claimed the assets of the failed bank as capital when in reality, this was a nontangible asset. This "goodwill," as it was called, was created when the liabilities of an institution exceeded the market asset value. The "assets" of a failed thrift represented potential growth, but not existing capital. Capital standards provisions in FIRREA specified that an institution have real capital of 3 % of its assets. Another issue of concern to Carper involved directors' and officers' (D&Os) liabilities. Delaware was very protective of D&Os so Carper had an interest in maintaining this protection in the FIRREA legislation. Carper offered two amendments protecting exclusions in contracts for receivers' and conservators' rights to enforce contracts, and protecting state law on limited indemnification for directors and officers.

Other issues in the FIRREA bill included reforms of the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) system and Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC). Prosecution of "S&L Crooks" was also an important issue for Carper at the conclusion of the S&L crisis.

In 1991, Carper was elected chair of the Subcommittee on Economic Stabilization. Files of this committee, many of them witness lists and transcripts of hearings, give insight into Carper's leadership and his rapport with peers and colleagues in his capacity as chair. The subcommittee, now defunct, lacked strong legislative authority. Instead, the committee reviewed and processed ideas for new legislation via hearings. Hearings are used as tools both for writing new legislation as well as assessing formerly passed legislation to see if and how it was fulfilling its purposes. While Carper was chair, the subcommittee held a variety of hearings. Topics included Enterprise Zones, Economic Development issues, the Defense Production Act, and National Energy Policy. Files representing all of these issues are present in the papers.

Enterprise zones (EZs) refer to those areas within cities or rural areas which are given special treatment, often in the form of tax reductions, to entice businesses to these areas. This not only creates jobs, but promotes favorable business conditions which can encourage further economic development in these areas.

Closely related to the Enterprise Zones issue is Economic Development. An issue of national as well as local importance, hearings on Economic Development in the papers look at the impact of reduced federal funding on economic development in cities, notably Philadelphia, and innovative credit and assistance programs that traditional and non-traditional lenders had developed to meet the needs of distressed communities.

Hearings on the Defense Production Act (DPA) discussed extension of the act focusing on lessons learned in the just-ended Persian Gulf War. Originally enacted in 1950 at the time of the Korean War, the DPA provided the president with authority to stockpile key goods and allowed the military access to key supplies during times of national emergency. The act also ensured adequate supplies of materials and components for production of defense products. It also provided for the ability to mobilize in times of national emergency. The reauthorization of the Act would allow the provisions of the original act to continue and also give preference to domestic producers of key goods. A component of this act was the Exxon-Florio provision which prohibited foreign mergers which may affect national security. Basically, the act was essential in preserving the country's industrial base for defense and national security.

The National Energy Policy was also somewhat in response to the recent Persian Gulf crisis. Components of the bill included reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, setting national energy standards, most notably in fuel emissions by automobiles, searching for alternative fuel sources, including nuclear power; and examining domestic regions for drilling, including coastal drilling and the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. The bill was complex in its many objectives and its need to balance between protecting the environment and the economy. (See also Series I.C.11. Issue Files -- Energy and the Environment, for more detail.)

Other bills of note in this series include H.R. 28 Expedited Funds Availability Act of 1987, H.R. 3567 Bank Examination Improvement Act of 1985, and H.R. 4917 Depository Institution Examination Improvement Act of 1986. All three were legislation sponsored by Congressman Carper.

A 43-volume set of hearings and reports from the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee from the 102nd Congress, 1991-1992, completes this series.

Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee

Tom Carper's Committee Assignments

98th Congress
1983-1984      Financial Institutions Supervision, Regulation and Insurance
               Housing and Community Development
               Domestic Monetary Policy

99th Congress  
1985-1986      Economic Stabilization
               Housing and Community Development
               Domestic Monetary Policy

100th Congress
1987-1988      Financial Institutions Supervision, Regulation and Insurance
               Housing and Community Development
               International Development, Finance, Trade and Monetary Policy

101st Congress
1989-1990      Financial Institutions Supervision, Regulation and Insurance
               Housing and Community Development
               International Development, Finance, Trade and Monetary Policy

102d Congress
1991-1992      Economic Stabilization - Chairman
               Housing and Community Development
               Policy Research and Insurance

+ Contents List for Series I.B.1. Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs

+ Return to Index Page for Thomas R. Carper Congressional Papers

+ Guide to Other Political Papers at the University of Delaware Library

+ Return to List of Manuscript Finding Aids by Title

citation and reference information:

Thomas R. Carper
Congressional Papers

1979 - 1993
(bulk dates 1982 - 1992)

Manuscript Collection Number: 399
Accessioned: Gift of Thomas R. Carper, 1992, 1998-1999
Extent: 84 linear ft. and oversize material
Content: Legislation, correspondence, reports, documents and publications, memoranda, speeches, photographs, audio-visual material, newsletters, news clippings, and ephemera.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: November 1997 - December 1999 by Rebecca J. Altermatt with assistance from Rob Costello; edited by L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin.

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