GOP Senators Threaten to Block Housing Bill

Posted June 18, 2008 at 5:23pm

A group of Republican Senators are objecting to consideration of a housing bill sponsored by Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), one of two Democratic Senators under fire for receiving a favorable mortgage from Countrywide Financial.

Nine GOP Senators sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday requesting that he delay consideration of the bill until they have a chance to review the legislation.

The move could delay consideration of the housing bill, but a senior Democratic aide predicted that the Senate would plow ahead with the bill and schedule a vote to proceed to debate on Thursday.

The aide said Republicans had threatened to read aloud the 600-page bill in an effort to stall proceedings. The aide said GOPers could force the clerk to read the bill tonight, but a vote would still be scheduled for Thursday.

“We are concerned with recent allegations related to Countrywide Financial, a private entity that by some estimates would receive more than $2.5 billion in benefits from this bill,” the Republicans wrote to Reid.

“We request that you delay consideration [of the housing bill] until we have adequate time to read the bill and better understand the allegations and how much Countrywide will benefit from the bill.”

On the floor late Wednesday, Reid acknowledged receipt of the letter and said the request to review the bill was “totally valid.” But Reid added that the bill had been “available for review” all day and that he “hoped” Senators and their staff had reviewed it.

Dodd and Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) came under fire when it was revealed they had received favorable terms for their mortgages. Both Senators have admitted no wrongdoing, but said they would welcome an investigation by the Ethics Committee.

Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) appear to have spearheaded the Republican move. But Sens. James Inhofe (Okla.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Jim Bunning (Ky.), David Vitter (La.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.) and John Ensign (Nev.) also signed on.