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Housing reform markup on for today
WASHINGTON (5/15/14)--Despite rumors and reports that its plans could be again derailed, the Senate Banking Committee is still scheduled to begin markup of the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014 today.
 
As currently constructed, the bill would call for a wind down of government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and their functions to be replaced by a set of private entities to be overseen by the newly created Federal Mortgage Insurance Corp. (FMIC).
 
According to the committee's summary of the bill it is "designed to protect taxpayers from bearing the cost of a housing downturn; promote stable, liquid and efficient mortgage markets for single-family and multifamily housing; ensure that affordable, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages continue to be available, and that affordability remains a key consideration; provide equal access for lenders of all sizes to the secondary market; and facilitate broad availability of mortgage credit for all eligible borrowers in all areas and for single-family and multifamily housing types."
 
The markup is likely to be finished today, with the bill widely expected likely to pass the 22-person committee.
 
According to a report by Bloomberg last week, six Democrats--Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Jack Reed (R.I.) --agreed that they would not support the proposal without significant revisions.
 
Without votes from those six, even if the bill passes committee, it is not expected to make it to the floor for a vote by the Senate as a whole.
 
"Housing reform is critically important, whether it comes in the short term or the long term," said Ryan Donovan, Credit Union National Association's senior vice president of legislative affairs. "We are grateful to the sponsors of this bill for listening to credit unions' concerns and will continue to work with lawmakers as they make reforms happen."
 
CUNA supports housing reform, and previously advocated successfully for a change in the bill that proposed a mutual securitization company to provide credit unions and smaller lenders access to securitizing their mortgages. 
 
The assets cap for participation in the mutual was eventually raised to $500 billion from the original $15 billion, after testimony from CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel, among others.
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