Prospects Dim For Housing Finance Reform In 2014

The Johnson-Crapo housing finance reform bill – the most popular of several housing finance reform bills introduced in Congress during the past year – appears to have stalled in the Senate Banking Committee and will likely not make it to the Senate floor this session, as the bill's backers have so far failed to gain additional support from key Democrats on the panel.

Last week, the committee postponed a vote on the bipartisan proposal, introduced in March by Sens. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, so that its backers could wrest more committee votes.

As of Friday, however, those backers had so far failed to win support from key Democrats on the committee, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Charles Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Bloomberg News reports.

Although the bill – which builds on the Corker-Warner proposal introduced last year – could have passed with a narrow majority, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said it would take a ‘supermajority’ to compel him to bring it up for a floor vote, according to the report.

Still, some are holding out hope that the bill will pass in a committee vote next week.

‘Housing-finance reform is going to pass out of the banking committee next week with bipartisan support, which is a landmark achievement for such a complicated and controversial issue,’ Sean Oblack, a spokesperson for Sen. Johnson, says in a Wall Street Journal report. ‘We have made significant progress bridging the divide among those previously undecided, and the committee vote is just a first step.’

Even if the bill clears in committee, it remains unlikely that it will be brought to the Senate floor.

Further, should the bill clear the Democrat-led Senate, it would have to be reconciled with any measure that might make it out of the Republican-controlled House – a difficult feat considering the short amount of time remaining in the session and the inherent complexities of the legislation.


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