A senate bill introduced late Thursday would extend the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit for six months after its current November 30 expiration date. Maryland Democrat Sen. Benjamin Cardin introduced S.B. 1678, and it is co-sponsored by senators John Ensign (R-Nev.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Migh.). “As we are fighting to get our economy back on track, we cannot afford to let lapse an important tool that has had had a positive effect on the housing market,” Cardin said in a release on his Web site. "Thanks to this tax credit, hundreds of thousands of Americans have confidently jumped into the housing market for the first time, with $8,000 from the federal government in their family checkbook." Cardin added: “A six-month extension is a fiscally responsible way to provide adequate time to nudge even more prospective home buyers off the sidelines and closer to owning their part of the American Dream.” The bill would not change anything on the tax credit except its expiration date, although at least one housing industry group is calling for an expansion of the credit and another, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), has urged an extension of the tax credit. “The credit needs to be available for an additional period of time in order to sustain the progress that’s been made so we can continue to see our markets fully recover. Uncertainty about the future of the credit will dampen consumer demand. The only way we can assure that the progress we've made can continue is to extend the credit and to do that now,” NAR president Charles McMillan said in a statement released earlier this week. Richard Smith, president and CEO of real estate and relocation services provider Realogy, voiced his support for the bill early Friday, and called for the tax credit to be expanded to include all homebuyers, increase the size of the credit and eliminate the income eligibility caps, which he said would help boost sales for more expensive homes typically bought by non-first-time homebuyers. “We believe that stimulating demand for housing — particularly in the repeat buyer or 'move-up' market — is the most effective way for Congress to truly accelerate a broader economic recovery," Richard Smith said. Write to Austin Kilgore.