Mortgage industry chief gets some federal employees back to work with pay

"Could you make these guys essential?” the chief executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association asked Steven Mnuchin's senior adviser

Jan.January 13, 2019 03:31 PM

From left: Mortgage Bankers Association chief Robert Broeksmit, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Credit: Mortgage Bankers Association, Getty Images)

Despite the ongoing government shutdown, hundreds of clerks at the Internal Revenue Service are back at work with pay after the Mortgage Bankers Association successfully lobbied the Treasury Department.

The association’s president and CEO Robert Broeksmit spoke with officials including Craig Phillips, a senior adviser to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, about restarting the IRS’ processing of tax transcripts — a service which verifies would-be homebuyers’ incomes — and a day later Broeksmit heard that clerks were being called back to work, the Washington Post reported. Sources confirmed to the publication that the IRS income verification service resumed last week.

Broeksmit described his exchange with Phillips to the publication: “I said, ‘Look, this is starting to be a problem for the lending industry,’ ” he recounted. “Could you make these guys essential?”

Phillips wrote in an email to the Post that the decision to call 400 clerks back to work “was not taken to benefit the industry. It benefits the consumers that have made loan applications.”

The funds to pay the reinstated workers will come from the fees charged to homebuyers to have their mortgage applications processed.  The IRS claims it will be similarly reinstating other services that levy user fees.

“I’d like to take some credit,” said Broeksmit, whose trade association represents 2,300 entities working in the country’s $1.3 trillion mortgage industry, to the Post. “Our direct request got quite rapid results.”

Sunday marked day 23 of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. An estimated 800,000 workers are furloughed, or working without pay, and this month these federal employees owe a combined $438 million in mortgage and rent payments. [WashPost] — Erin Hudson

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