WASHINGTON Dec 13 A bill aimed at placing the
U.S. Federal Housing Administration on firmer financial footing
is expected to reach the U.S. Senate floor for a vote before
lawmakers leave Washington for the holidays, according to a
letter obtained by Reuters.
Senator Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson said he will
introduce an FHA bill that has already passed the House of
Representatives. He is trying to bypass the usual committee
process and is pressing for a speedy vote with little or no
"I believe this is a necessary and responsible step to
protect the taxpayers given the short amount of time left in the
legislative session," Johnson said in the letter to Republican
Representative Spencer Bachus.
The agency is facing a projected $16.3 billion deficit in
its insurance fund, which has raised concerns it will need a
taxpayer bailout. The bill is aimed at reducing the FHA's need
for a cash infusion.
The legislation, which cleared the House with an
overwhelming margin, would set a minimum rate for the annual
premiums paid for mortgage insurance, allow the FHA to exclude
poorly performing lenders from the program and tighten the
agency's oversight of delinquent loans, among other measures.