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House Financial Services Committee passes GSE reform bill.

Following a compromise between lawmakers and the Treasury Department, a bill designed to reform oversight of the government-sponsored enterprises cleared the House Financial Services Committee in late March by a bipartisan majority.

The bill--the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2007 (H.R. 1427)--would overhaul the regulatory oversight of the two GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as the Federal Home Loan Banks, and create a new, independent regulator with broad powers akin to current banking regulators, including authority to restrict their portfolios and initiate receivership, if necessary.

H.R. 1427 would also create an off-budget and non-taxpayer-financed affordable-housing fund, which would dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars for the construction, maintenance and preservation of affordable housing, with the first year of the fund having resources dedicated to the hurricane-stricken areas of the Gulf Coast, and billions of dollars over the next five years for affordable housing nationwide.

Additionally, the bill hikes the conforming loan amount to $625,500 in the nation's most expensive housing markets from the current cap of $417,000.

The committee also adopted amendments concerning the composition of the boards of the enterprises and of the FHLB's use of the affordable-housing fund and the affordable-housing goals, and provisions to promote diversity at the new GSE oversight agency and at the regulated entities.

The bill, which passed with a bipartisan majority of 45-19, now moves to the House floor for consideration.

MBA Chairman John Robbins lauded the committee's passage of the bill, noting it would improve regulation of the mortgage giants Fannie and Freddie, as well as the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks.

"The GSEs play an important role in the success of America's housing finance system, and the establishment of a strong and independent regulator, with enhanced abilities to oversee both safety and soundness and compliance with GSE charter purposes, is critical to the continuation of a strong housing finance system," said Robbins. "MBA hopes that the Senate Banking Committee will also soon consider GSE regulatory reform legislation, and we look forward to working with Congress and the administration as they create a new regulator for the GSEs."
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Title Annotation:Briefing Book
Comment:House Financial Services Committee passes GSE reform bill.(Briefing Book)
Publication:Mortgage Banking
Date:May 1, 2007
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