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Housing Bill Update | The Saga Continues

April 3, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

(cross-posted from SENATUS)

A quick update on the progress being made (or should be say not being made) on the Housing Bill. We’ve blogged about a provision, sponsored by Majority Whip Durbin (D-IL), that would allow bankruptcy court judges to modify the terms and principal amounts due on loan agreements for those being foreclosed upon for several weeks now. That single provision is now threatening to completely halt all action on the bipartisan Housing package currently before the Senate.

Senate members are essentially at a standstill for now over forcing this provision, now being offered as an amendment to the Housing Bill, to be subject to a supermajority (60 votes) for adoption. Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) said moments ago that “we will not agree to a 60 vote margin.” He says that if 60 votes were allowed on this amendment, the same could be requested on any amendment to the bill in the future.

Republican members are equally as unwilling to budge on their request for a 60 vote threshold. Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY) referred to this as “somewhat of a manufactured controversy” saying that it should be no surprise that his party would seek a supermajority on this amendment because it has previously been the most controversial provision offered under the Housing legislation. That is certainly the case considering that the bankruptcy judge provision was almost solely responsible for the Senate voting against a move to begin debate on the Housing Bill in February.

Update: In a move likely reflecting the amount of pressure being put on the Senate to take some type of action on Housing legislation, Senator Durbin (D-IL) moved to table his own amendment. That motion was just passed in the Senate by a vote of 58 (Y) to 36 (N). This means that the bankruptcy court judge provision will not be added to the Housing package, allowing amendment offering to continue and, eventually, votes to occur. The Majority Leader called this move an “act of unselfishness.”

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