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Kratovil to get credit for homebuyer tax bill

Ben Pershing

UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: Kratovil's bill just passed the House, 409-5. It now awaits action by the Senate.

ORIGINAL POST: On Tuesday afternoon, the House is expected to come to the aid of people who are in the midst of buying a home. A federal homebuyer tax credit worth up to $8,000 is scheduled to expire Wednesday night unless Congress acts, potentially leaving in the lurch thousands of people who have contracted to buy a home but haven't closed.

So the House will move the Homebuyers Assistance and Improvement Act of 2010, which would give people who have sales under contract until the end of September to finish the transaction, and then hope that the Senate can do the same.

The fact that Congress would take such a step isn't surprising, but what might be are the identities of the three main sponsors of the bill -- Reps. Frank Kratovil (Md.), Travis Childers (Miss.) and Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.).

All three Democrats are low on the seniority totem pole (Kratovil and Dahlkemper are freshmen, while Childers took office after a 2008 special election), and none of them are on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. But all three face competitive reelection races, which might help explain why the House leadership gave them the privilege of sponsoring a slam-dunk bill.

Giving vulnerable members the chance to put their names on popular legislation is standard practice on the Hill, and one of the perks of being in the majority. At House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's (D-Md.) weekly news briefing Tuesday, a reporter asked whether it would be helpful for Kratovil, Childers and Dahlkemper to be able to go back to their districts and take credit for the bill.

"Gee, I hope so," Hoyer said, prompting laughter in the room.

Though this week's measure might provide a little boost for Kratovil, the Maryland lawmaker isn't new to the topic. Kratovil co-sponsored a bill with Childers last September that would have extended the homebuyer credit through November 2010 -- which coincidentally or not, is when the two lawmakers and their colleagues face reelection.

"This is definitely an issue he's been working hard on for a while," said Kratovil spokesman Kevin Lawlor.

By Ben Pershing  |  June 29, 2010; 2:43 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , Ben Pershing  
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