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The Week Ahead in Congress

March 29, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The House is just coming back into session from their week off, and in addition to continuing their battle with Senate Democrats on funding the government beyond next week, they'll be voting on terminating another foreclosure program, making it harder for aviation workers to form unions, and more. Take a look at the complete schedule below, click on the bill numbers to learn more about them, then get involved by commenting, sharing and contacting your members of Congress.

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Subsidizing the Donor Class

March 8, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Yesterday I wrote about a bill scheduled for a vote this week that would eliminate a program that provides bridge loans to unemployed homeowners to help them avoid foreclosure. The program has $1 billion in total lending authority, and homeowners are required to pay the government back when they become employed again. House Republicans say they're going after the program a matter of fiscal responsibility. But here's the thing -- at the same time that they're trying to cut $1 billion in loans for the unemployed, they're fighting to protect a $100 billion program that provides tax breaks to homeowners, with benefits flowing overwhelmingly and disproportionately to the wealthy.

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One of the foreclosure relief programs that House Republicans are looking to shut down this week has been a widely-recognized failure. It was supposed to provide incentives for mortgage lenders to voluntarily renegotiate loans for underwater homeowners, but it never caught on. The other program, however, hasn't gone into effect yet, but because it doesn't require the cooperation of lenders it's expected to be more successful when it does. The program, which is called Emergency Mortgage Relief, would provide government bridge loans to help unemployed homeowners avoid foreclosures. Since we can't evaluate it in action, here's a closer look at how's it's supposed to work once it starts up.

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A strange thing happened in the Senate last week. After years of rejecting the House's attempt to pass the "Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act" that would force states to accept out-of-state notarizations of documents, including electronic notarizations, the bill was suddenly discharged from committee, called up on the Senate floor, and quickly passed under unanimous consent. Even the bill's sponsor, Rep. Robert Aderholt [R, AL-4], said that he was "surprised that it came through at the eleventh hour." Nobody expected the bill to come up for Senate passage, but since it seemed innocuous enough and because senators were itching to get out of D.C. and hit the campaign trails, they passed it without any debate or dissent.

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How Congress Failed on Foreclosures

August 7, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

A small, mostly unnoticed change that the Senate made to the housing bill has had a major effect on undermining President Obama's plan for stopping foreclosures.

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