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Senate sends sweeping housing bill to House

Legislation addresses FHA expansion; Fannie, Freddie oversight

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Senate lawmakers Friday signed off on a bill that would modernize the Federal Housing Administration and expand FHA loan guarantee programs by $300 billion, create a new regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and create an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers. HR 3221, the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008, would also appropriate $4 billion for states to purchase and renovate abandoned and foreclosed properties, a proposal the Bush administration has threatened to veto. The bill also envisions a national licensing system for residential loan originators and would establish minimum qualifications for all loan originators and require federal regulators to create a registry for banks and thrift employees who originate loans. The bill is headed back to the House of Representatives, with a plea from Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., not to change the bill without consulting with him and Senate Banking Committee co-chair Richard Shelby, R-Ala. Before a 63-5 vote to reje...