Housing Deal Struck in Senate

Tomorrow, at 10:30 a.m. in Room538 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building,
the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will consider the “The Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008.”

Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) issued a joint news release about their ageement to create a multi-billion dollar mortgage rescue fund with losses to be paid by the two Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE’s) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bill also establishes a new regulator for the GSE’s.

Reuters didn’t even a have the name of the bill and referred to a CNBC story which should have been attributed to Politico’s Crypt, which provided the wording of the news releasewithout a link. At first I couldn’t find a copy of the release, looking on the sites maintained by Dodd and Shelby. It turned out to be posted on the Committee’s site, along with a copy of the bill and the manager’s amendment. This is basically the Senate version of Barney Frank’s Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2007, H.R. 1427, (report, bill summary) which passed the House on May 22, 2007 by a vote of 313-104, but is the rewrite of the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act (H.R. 3221), Passed May 8.

Meanwhile the news sources were saying that the details were fuzzy. Go figure. I continually find it sad that as a blogger with an hour or so to write an entry after putting in a full day at work, I can scoop paid journalists who seem to be hiding public information from citizens, rather than providing it.

Said Dodd in the release,

This legislation is good news for both the markets and homeowners. The bill addresses the root of our current economic problems – the foreclosure crisis – by creating a voluntary initiative at no estimated cost to taxpayers which will help Americans keep their homes. The bill also establishes a new fund that will help create more affordable housing for millions for Americans. Finally, this legislation takes a balanced approach toward reforming the GSEs, creating a world class regulator with enough authority to help these vital institutions operate in a safe and sound manner, while better fulfilling their important mission of providing affordable housing for Americans. Americans are looking for leadership and solutions – I am hopeful that the Banking Committee will deliver both by passing this legislation tomorrow. I appreciate the constructive participation of Senator Shelby in the development of this legislation, as well as the bipartisan efforts of our fellow Committee members, Majority Leader Reid, and Republican Leader McConnell.

Shelby added,

I’m proud to join Chairman Dodd in announcing this agreement. My primary consideration during negotiations on this package has been to protect the American taxpayer, and I believe we’ve made significant progress toward that goal on each component.

In my judgment, the new GSE regulator created under this legislation would be granted much needed authority and flexibility to regulate the GSEs appropriately. Ultimately, a strong regulator will better serve the interests of homeowners and taxpayers for years to come. I’m also pleased that the Hope for Homeowners proposal is paid for. I’ve long said that we should do what we can to help struggling homeowners, short of asking the taxpayer to foot the bill.

I appreciate the Chairman working with me during this process, and I look forward to helping him move this legislation forward.

Dodd had written an op-ed which the Connecticut Post published Saturday.

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