Rules Committee sets up votes to terminate mortgage programs

Republicans noted that the first bill would save $8 billion by terminating a program that has only led to 44 mortgage modifications since it was funded with TARP money. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) said the Obama administration predicted that as many as 1.5 million homeowners would be helped by the program, and that it has clearly fallen short of those expectations.

House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Barney Frank (D-Mass.) argued unsuccessfully in the committee hearing that technical glitches had prevented it from being used.

The GOP also noted that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that of each dollar loaned under the emergency mortgage relief program, the federal government would end up paying 98 cents, and also noted that this program also has barely been used. Frank defended the program by saying it was only just put into place under last year's Wall Street Reform bill (also known as Dodd-Frank), but the committee again rejected Frank's plea.

The committee approved modified open rules for both bills, which will allow germane amendments to be considered on the floor as long as they are submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by Wednesday. This is the process the House used to consider H.R. 1, the FY 2011 spending bill.

The committee rejected a proposal from Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) to allow for consideration of an amendment to H.R. 830 that would allow for consideration of amendment that would allow homeowners with government-backed mortgages to refinance at fixed, market rates.

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