Frank responded by reiterating the argument that while Republicans are looking to close down HAMP, they are not as spendthrift when it comes to other budget items, like agricultural subsidies.

Bachus spoke for several minutes during the debate, citing comments from Treasury officials who have said there is little chance of changing the way HAMP works. Bachus said this makes it unlikely that the program could be retooled in order to help much more than the 550,000 homeowners it has helped with refinancing.

Under the program, the government encourages banks to write down mortgage balances so monthly payments do not exceed 31 percent of a borrower's monthly gross income. So far, $1 billion has been spent, and the program is authorized to use another $28 billion.

Bachus said that by defending HAMP, Democrats are failing to listen to the criticism of the program, or the voters in the last election.

"I don't think you've listened to the American people," Bachus said. "I don't think you heard what they said in November. This program has been criticized ever since it's inception."

After the debate, the House is expected to consider nine amendments to the bill. Roll call votes on some amendments and the bill itself are expected by around 6:30 p.m.