House votes 252-170 to end fourth federal mortgage program

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) noted that while HAMP was expected to modify four million mortgages, only 550,000 have been modified so far. Bachus and other Republicans noted that in many cases, mortgage write-downs authorized under the program only force homeowners to deplete their savings in order to keep up with payments that are still too high, leaving them in a worse position than if they had simply defaulted.

While Democrats said they were open to tweaking the program, Bachus dismissed this. In an exchange with ranking member Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Bachus said Frank only introduced an idea last week after it became clear that a repeal vote was coming.

"Two years of a failed program, and the week before we come to the floor, you file a bill," Bachus said. "I'm sorry to say to the ranking member that you can file the bill, we'll take a look at it, but we're ending this failure."

Bachus also noted widespread complaints about the program, and charged that Democrats failed to hear the "cut spending" message of 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."

Before the final vote, the House accepted a Republican amendment from Rep. Franciso "Quico" Canseco (R-Texas) to ensure that money saved would go to deficit reduction, and an amendment from Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) to list HAMP's flaws in the findings section of the bill.

Members also accepted two Democratic amendments. One, from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), would require Treasury to send a letter to HAMP applicants saying they will not be considered because the program has been terminated. The other, from Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), adds a sense of Congress that banks are encouraged to work with homeowners to provide loan modifications for qualifying owners.

But the House voted down Democratic amendments to outline how many modifications the program had achieved, require Treasury to study the program and try to implement a new one based on that study; list the modifications in each state that won't be able to benefit from HAMP; and require lenders and services participating in the HAMP program to continue to publicly report loan modification information.

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