GOP Maneuver Targets Housing Bill

Posted June 19, 2008 at 1:04pm

Two GOP Senators plan to force a vote to return the housing legislation back to committee until an investigation is conducted into how the bill would aid troubled mortgage company Countrywide Financial.

Sens. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) will offer a motion to recommit the housing bill back to the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, one day after they sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) requesting that Reid delay consideration of the bill in light of controversy surrounding the bill’s sponsor.

“There have been very serious concerns raised about actions taken by Countrywide and we need to know what they stand to gain from this bill. This legislation has been rewritten behind closed doors, is over 600 pages long, and we need to know what companies stand to gain from this bill before we vote on it,” DeMint said in a statement.

Earlier today, DeMint objected to a unanimous consent agreement from Reid that would allow the Senate to consider a substitute offered by Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). DeMint later withdrew his objection after Reid promised a meeting with him to address any concerns.

Dodd and Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) received loans with preferential terms as party of a Countrywide program for VIPs.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio)said today it would be “irresponsible” for his chamber to pursue the housing bill without first calculating the potential benefit to Countrywide.

More than two dozen House Republicans also signed on to a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) calling for the House to investigate the allegations and determine how similar incidents could be avoided in the future.

“Although each allegation is individually alarming, when viewed together a disturbing pattern appears to emerge indicating that at least one large lender was making loans to elected officials that average, hardworking Americans would and could never receive,” states the letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

Pelosi said she preferred to leave it to the Senate to address the issue since it involves the actions of Senators.