The House Appropriations Committee approved an extension to the increased loan limit for conforming mortgages in the 162-page 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill late last week. The previous $417,000 limit was temporarily increased to $729,750 for mortgage buyers Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) and mortgage insurer the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), as part of the nearly $800bn American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that President Obama signed in February. But that temporary increase is set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress extends it. The committee’s bill would provide that extension until September 2010, the end of the 2010 fiscal year. The bill calls for the FHA to insure $400bn in single-family loans, as well as provides Ginnie Mae the authority to guarantee up to $500bn in mortgage-backed securities. The $123.1bn appropriations bill, if approved, would also provide billions of dollars in housing assistance to “vulnerable populations,” including veterans, the elderly, the disabled and people with AIDS. The bill also includes transportation items, including funding for highway infrastructure, airport modernization and high-speed rail systems. Write to Austin Kilgore.