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Inside Washington (03/04/2011)
* WASHINGTON (3/7/11)--The House Financial Services Committee on Thursday passed legislation that would end two federal foreclosure programs. The measures, though touted by Republicans as a savings for taxpayers, are largely seen as symbolic by observers (American Banker March 4). The votes on Thursday would cut the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) Refinance Program and the Emergency Relief Program. Both are expected to be approved by the full House next week. But the Senate is not expected to take up the legislation. The FHA Refinance Program, announced in March 2010 by the Obama administration, encourages lenders and borrowers to work together to restructure underwater mortgages. Borrowers who qualify can receive FHA refinance loans through the program. The Emergency Homeowner Relief Program provides loans to unemployed borrowers for a period of 12 months, with a possible 12-month extension. At issue between Democrats and Republicans is whether the government should use taxpayer money to assist homeowners. The Home Affordable Modification Program is scheduled for a separate vote next week … * WASHINGTON (3/7/11)--The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is urging members of the House of Representatives to keep the mortgage interest tax deduction. The NAHB, with about 160,000 members, asked House lawmakers to sign a resolution introduced by Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) to stop efforts to eliminate or reduce the mortgage interest deduction. There are 40 co-sponsors of the resolution. “The mortgage interest deduction has been a cornerstone of the nation’s housing policy for almost a century, and it is vital to homeownership and healthy housing markets,” said Bob Nielsen, the NAHB’s chairman. The association maintains that eliminating the deduction would destabilize housing markets, increase homeownership costs, create more foreclosures and curb job creation in the housing sector …

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