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Three of six House Oversight investigations to involve housing finance

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Three of six major upcoming investigations by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee involve housing finance issues. New House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said recently that he’ll lead six major investigations over the next three months, according to news reports and Patton Boggs' "This Week in Washington" report. They include the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the foreclosure crisis, the effect of business regulations such as the new Dodd-Frank Act on the economy and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's failure to identify the origins of the  meltdown. The other three investigations are expected to involve alleged corruption in Afghanistan, release of classified diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks and recalls at the Food and Drug Administration. Issa (R-Calif.), became chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee when the 112th Congress was sworn in Jan. 5. The Republican wants the government to acknowledge its contributions to the housing slide and end taxpayer support for Fannie and Freddie. He supports ending federal subsidies to the two entities, which have been under federal conservatorship since September 2008, transitioning them to private firms that compete on a level playing field with other firms. The Treasury is to issue a report in February, giving the administration's guidance on what it thinks should be done with the government-sponsored enterprises. In a Jan. 7 letter to the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Issa also suggested that he might look into the Home Affordable Modification Program known as HAMP. HAMP was expected to help 3 million to 4 million homeowners but has fallen woefully short, Issa said in his letter. The letter was in response to Cummings' request that Issa hold a hearing on the foreclosure crisis, according to a recent report in The Huffington Post. Issa has also been critical of the government’s role in federal bailouts during the financial crisis. Issa and incoming Republicans have pledged to run a more transparent Congress, according to a report in The Hill. Last year, he earned an award from the Project of Government Oversight for publicly releasing hundreds of thousands of documents related to the American International Group (AIG) investigation, detailing the government’s decision to pay billions of dollars to AIG counterparties, The Hill said. Write to Kerry Curry.

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