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Congress back Subprime woes credit cards in sights
WASHINGTON (12/4/07)—Subprime mortgage woes and credit card practices are just two of the issues that appear to be slated for attention by the recently returned House and Senate as lawmakers barrel toward the close of the first session of the 110th Congress. In the Senate this week, a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee is scheduled to shine a spotlight on credit card practices today—and specifically on the circumstances under which credit card issuers may increase the interest rates of cardholders who are in compliance with the terms of their credit cards. In March, the subcommittee examined credit card grace periods, interest charges assessed against debt paid on time, and excessive fees. Today’s follow-up hearing, entitled “Credit Card Practices: Unfair Interest Rate Increases,” will feature a panel of three consumers identified by a subcommittee release as having experienced interest rate increases. A second panel of witness will be comprised of representatives from credit card companies. Also in the Senate, on Wednesday an oversight subcommittee is expected to look into the country’s subprime mortgage woes and whether the country’s bankruptcy code could provide some relief to beleaguered homeowners. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has urged lawmakers to use extreme care in making any changes to bankruptcy laws and will continue to weigh in on the subject. The subprime issue is also scheduled for attention on the House side this week. As reported earlier, the House Financial Services Committee Thursday intends to take an overall look at recent proposals to improve the pace and volume of subprime mortgage loan modifications that are meant to help troubled borrowers hang onto to their homes purchased with hybrid ARMs and other nontraditional loans. The committee is expected to zero in on the subject of whether mortgage lenders could suffer from liability issues if they alter mortgage loan terms to help borrowers stay in their homes. Also possible for this week or later: The House Judiciary Committee in November set aside a mark up on its bill seeking to revise sections of the bankruptcy code to give judges power to modify certain terms in existing mortgages. CUNA’s Legislative Affairs Vice President Ryan Donovan said Monday that the committee has identified action on the bill before yearend as a priority, although nothing has yet been scheduled.
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