My Way
 • home | my page | my email
 news    home | top | world | intl | natl | op | pol | govt | business | tech | sci | entertain | sports | health | odd | sources | local
 Presidential • Cabinet • Congress • Supreme Crt • Other US Govt

Housing aid bill clears key Senate hurdle
 Email this Story

Jun 24, 3:19 PM (ET)


(AP) Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, left, accompanied by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., gestures during a news...
Full Image

sponsored links
Voice Your Opinion - Take today's My Way Poll, featuring a new topic daily.
Play Free Online Games - Collapse, Bounce Out, Jigsaw, Crossword, Mah Jong and tons more.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A massive foreclosure rescue bill overwhelmingly cleared a key Senate test Tuesday, drawing broad support from Democrats and Republicans alike. The Senate voted 83-9 to speed up work on the $300 billion mortgage aid plan, putting it on track for a final vote as early as the end of the day.

The resounding vote reflected a keen interest in both parties in claiming election-year credit for helping homeowners amid tough economic times.

Still, the measure faces a veto threat from President Bush and disputes among Democrats about key details. Those challenges will probably delay any final deal until mid-July.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., the Banking Committee chairman, said the legislation "would allow us to begin to put a tourniquet on the hemorrhaging of foreclosures in this country."

"What better gift on independence could we give the American people than a sense that this, their Congress of the United States, can come together, despite political differences, and craft legislation to make a difference for our country," Dodd said.

Senate passage would set the stage for high-stakes negotiations to resolve Democrats' differences. Conservative Democrats known as "Blue Dogs" are concerned about how to pay for the measure, while members of the Congressional Black Caucus - most of them liberal - call it "unacceptable," arguing it doesn't do enough to address the needs of African Americans.

Leaders also are divided on how high to place loan limits that apply to government mortgage insurance and financing.

The centerpiece of the package is a foreclosure rescue program in which the Federal Housing Administration would provide $300 billion in new, cheaper mortgages for distressed homeowners who otherwise would be considered too financially risky to qualify for government-insured, fixed-rate loans.

Borrowers would be eligible for the housing rescue if their mortgage holders were willing to take a substantial loss and allow them to refinance, and would ultimately have to share with the government a portion of any profits they made from selling or refinancing their properties.

The measure was advancing as a widely watched housing index said U.S. home prices fell in April at their steepest rate since the index began in 2000. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index of 20 cities fell by 15.3 percent in April versus a year ago, according to Tuesday's report.

A separate report from the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight said U.S. home prices fell 4.6 percent in April from the same month last year, when the index peaked. The government index is calculated using mortgage loans of $417,000 or less.

The bill would tighten controls and create a new regulator for Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE), which provide huge amounts of cash flow to the mortgage market by buying home loans from banks.

It also would provide a $14.5 billion array of tax breaks, including a credit of up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers who buy a home in the next year and boosts in low-income tax credits and mortgage revenue bonds.

In a letter to Democratic leaders last week, the 42 House members of the Black Caucus said the bill is plagued with "glaring omissions," including affordable housing funds for states affected by Hurricane Katrina and grants for states and localities to buy and fix up foreclosed properties.

To draw GOP support, Senate Democrats diverted the affordable housing money to pay for the foreclosure aid program.

The Senate bill provides $3.9 billion in grants to deal with foreclosed properties - compared with a House plan providing $15 billion - but the White House singled out the funds in its veto threat, and Blue Dogs are demanding that the money be offset with cuts elsewhere.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the Financial Services Committee chairman, said he'd be willing to yank the money and add it to a separate measure in the interests of a deal.

sponsored links
Cartoons, Tips, Fun Facts - Make 'My Way Today' a part of your day - filled with trivia, comics, photos and more.
5-Day Weather Forecast - Check local weather conditions on My Way before making plans.
Over 150 Baseball Stats - Updated daily in My Way Sports for avid fans like you.

 other congress news    

 Housing rescue plan passes key Senate test 
 Democrats press funding increases for veterans, education 
 Panel seeks testimony from Rumsfeld aide 
 Audit questions oversight of aid to Pakistan 
 House passes bill stopping Medicare cut for doctors 
 House committee probes crane safety 
 Florida congressman defends giving borrowed speech 
 Lawsuit could be power shake-up for Obama, McCain 
 House to improve accessibility for handicapped 
 House provides bankruptcy relief to reservists 

  email this page to a friend

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All right reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Spread the Word  |  We're Hiring

My Settings: Overview | Search | Email | Chat | Portfolio | Calendar | Groups | Profile

IMPORTANT: We do not present our users with pop-ups or any other non-contextual advertising. Nor do we send email to
our users. If you see or receive one of these items, it is coming from an outside source, either as a result of something you
have previously downloaded or as an "exit" pop-up from the site you just visited. It is not coming from our site.

Privacy Policy   Terms of Service   About Us   Our Mission   Sign In   Sign Out   Help Center

2008 IAC Search & Media. All rights reserved.

Partner Sites: Citysearch | MerchantCircle | Insiderpages | CollegeHumor | Pronto | LiveDaily | Expedia | Hotels | Hotwire
Evite | Excite | Fun Web Products | iWon | Smiley Central