Dems urge GOP to mend, not end mortgage program

Several Democrats took to the floor to argue that Republicans are killing helpful programs without any thought of replacing them, which will put U.S. homeowners at risk.

"The answer is not to simply repeal one of the only instruments that we have to keep families in their home, with only the vaguest of assurances that someday, somehow, Congress might think up a better plan," Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said. He and others added that ending the NSP takes away a tool that cities can use to mitigate the impact of foreclosures in their neighborhoods.

Republicans argued that the NSP, like other programs, is too costly to the taxpayer at a time of record federal deficits. They also seized on Democratic admissions that the program could be improved -- Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) noted that Democrats failed to take any step to improve it even after its various problems were being reported.

"Why did the Democrats, why did this administration continue a failed program?" Sessions asked. "That's because they were happy with it."

The debate early Wednesday afternoon was on a rule for considering H.R. 861, and another bill, H.R. 839, which would terminate the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The House is expected to use Wednesday afternoon to consider 10 amendments to H.R. 861 and vote on the bill, possibly around 6 p.m.

Several members spoke about HAMP, which Republicans plan to consider later this month. Republicans argued that HAMP has used $800 million of $29 billion authorized to refinance 521,000 mortgages, but cited high default rates and said this form of mortgage aid only delays inevitable foreclosures.

Democrats defended this program as well, and before formal debate today, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said Republicans purposefully delayed consideration of legislation to end HAMP over fears of having to defend this vote during next week's recess.

"The House Republican leadership decided that today wasn't the best time to terminate a program that has helped more than a half a million homeowners stay in their homes," McDermott said, adding that a vote would "force Republican members to go home and defend this feckless move for 10 straight days."