WASHINGTON (April 22, 2010) -- Racing against the clock, the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday renewed and sent to the floor a bill to provide home-buying assistance to low- and moderate income families in small towns and rural areas.
With the program facing expiration at the end of this month, House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., said the bipartisan bill would be rushed to the House and put on the suspension calendar Tuesday for debate and probable approval by the required two-thirds majority of the chamber.
Co-sponsored by Reps. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., the bill contains a new provision backed by the two lawmakers that would require the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to collect from mortgage lenders a 4 percent fee on the value of home loans to cover the cost of loan guarantees -- a provision that Kanjorski described as a "self-funding mechanism" to spare taxpayers any exposure in the event of defaults. Moore Capito pointed out that default rates for such loans over the years have been "very small", even though the average annual income of borrowers has ranged around $18,500.
That amendment was incorporated in the reauthorization measure by voice vote, just before the entire bill's adoption without dissent as it was sent to the House floor.
H.R. 5017 was one of several bills the committee intends to mark up over the next week or two. Before recessing for the day, the panel took up a more complex bill (H.R. 5072) to help shore up the Federal Housing Administration's highly stressed reserve fund -- which contains only one-fourth of the cash it is mandated to amass to back up its loan guarantees in the event of widespread defaults. As a train of amendments to require higher rates and fees to replenish the fund piled up for roll call votes, Frank recessed the panel until Tuesday. Roll call votes are scheduled then on at least six proposals by Republican members Scott Garrett of New Jersey and Jeb Hensarling of Texas.
Either next week or soon thereafter, Frank indicated, he also hopes to complete action not only on H.R. 5072 but also on renewal and expansion of the National Flood Insurance Act (H.R. 1264) and new legislation to establish a non-government, non-profit National Catastrophic Risk Consortium (H.R. 2555) to promote affordable homeowners' insurance that covers such catastrophic incidents as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, forest fires, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
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Markup Reports offer "you are there" coverage of every key House and Senate markup session. Filed and archived by bill number, the reports include roll call votes on amendments and final passage.