President Bush took a hard line on Tuesday in his administration’s latest push for housing reform, saying that key Congressional leaders had chosen to politicize economic issues, including housing, rather than working on what he called “critical legislation.” In remarks made at a press conference in the White House’s Rose Garden, the President said that Congress needed to “do its part, instead of issuing or sending bills that simply look like political statements.” “Americans are concerned about making their mortgage payments and keeping their homes, and I don’t blame them,” he said. This past week, administration officials signaled their opposition to housing reform measures currently being considered by Capitol Hill, with Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Roy A. Bernardi issuing a letter that detailed opposition to H.R. 5830, the FHA Housing Stabilization and Homeowner Retention Act. The bill has been pushed heavily by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), although Republicans contend that the measure amounts to an unfair bailout. “I am unable to support the Chairman’s new legislation, because I believe it will unfairly benefit a few homeowners at the expense of millions of careful borrowers and renters,” said Rep. Spencer Bacchus (R-AL) in remarks last week. Earlier, the administration had also signaled a lack of support for the so-called Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008, a bill introduced by senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) from the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Both proposals, according to administration officials, would amount to a bail out of lenders and speculators. Both administration officials and the President have repeatedly said they will support Congressional efforts to modernize the FHA, reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and to allow state housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to fund subprime mortgage refinancing. President Bush said Tuesday that Congress had “failed to send a single one of these proposals to my desk.” “Americans should not have to wait any longer for their elected officials to pass legislation to help more families stay in their homes,” he said.
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