Things Are Looking Up For Housing Legislation

Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) struck a deal on a contentious housing measure Monday evening, paving the way for the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs panel Dodd chairs to approve it, 19-2, Tuesday.

With Shelby on board, the bill's prospects have suddenly brightened.

Some lobbyists and pundits were predicting the housing bill was on its death bed. On May 6, President Bush issued a veto threat on similar legislation in the House, aimed at the Democrats' core proposal to ease the nation's housing woes - a measure to have the Federal Housing Administration offer billions in new guarantees to help dull the rising tide of foreclosures.

Now, Shelby predicts the president will sign the Senate measure.

"I think it's a little bit premature to say," said White House press secretary Dana Perino when asked about Shelby's forecast, "but we're hopeful that we'll be able to get to that point."

"We'll continue to look at it, and hopefully we'll be able to get something that will help lots of people stay in their homes," she said.

That's a lot more helpful than the politically-charged slam that the FHA plan as a "bailout" and not likely to work used by the White House in the presidential veto threat.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Dodd's House counterpart, also appeared encouraged by the Senate breakthrough despite the fact that the Senate bill plan now differs from the version that passed the House May 8.

"Because of [Dodd's] leadership on this issue, and the cooperation of Senator Shelby, it is highly likely we will be able to compromise on a significant housing package," he said in a statement Tuesday.
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