House Democrats push for bipartisan work on a housing finance reform bill

Garrett called out Democrats for "obsessing" over the 30-year mortgage issue highlighting, for one, how proposed reforms to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) leaves the government backing intact for a portion of the mortgage market. 

The hearing underscores the difficulty lawmakers in the House and the Senate face in reaching an broad, bipartisan agreement that they can not only send to the White House for President Obama's signature but meets the hefty requirements of banking, mortgage and other participants in the housing industry. 

Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) faulted Republicans for failing to work on a bipartisan agreement while calling the GOP measure an "ideologically extreme and dangerous bill."

"I urge the chairman to pull it, and work with us," he said. "It will never receive a single Democrat vote. We're wasting and squandering an opportunity.

"No one is defending the status quo but the challenge is to find a way forward."

California Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman said he had hoped the panel would wait until September.

But several Republicans argued, including House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), that Democrats operated in a similar way when they led the committee, quickly pushing through legislation without any GOP support.

Republicans said the time is now to begin work on the measure and that they are taking action because Democrats have yet to offer up any proposals.

Another bill sponsor, Republican Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) said "now's the time to grab this" and that if "we don't start a serious discussion today we've lost a serious opportunity."

Republicans said that if Democrats want a bipartisan approach then they need to be more aggressive with a plan.

"Maybe you'll offer a comprehensive substitute before the mark up is over," Hensarling said during the debate. "You're still protecting the system of today when half of Americans can no longer qualify to buy a home. That's what you're protecting."

Rep. Carol Maloney (D-N.Y.) said the measure would make the 30-year mortgage "unaffordable and inaccessible" and expressed backing for a the Senate's bipartisan plan rolled out by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Bob Corker (R-Va.). 

Still, there is plenty of uncertainty about whether that proposal has legs to get through the upper chamber. 

Hensarling has called his proposal as an alternative to a bipartisan Senate measure, which includes a government guarantee.

Another lead sponsor Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) criticized Democrats for their lack of involvement even after saying he was pleased to hear them say that while they have disdain for the GOP bill they still want to implement a new system. 

"But silence says everything," he said. 

"I hear you saying you're for reform but there's not much evidence of that as you criticize us." 

He argued that the Republican bill would "create space for private capital to come back" and all efforts much be made to not crowd them out." 

"But another federal guarantee brings us to where are today." "But another federal guarantee brings us to where are today."