The Week Ahead: Endgame on Housing Bill
A housing rescue package that began to take life last month and gained new momentum last weekend with fresh concerns over the health of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is headed for final consideration on the Hill this week, with the House expected to take up the bicameral compromise measure Wednesday and the Senate shortly thereafter.
The housing bill contains many provisions sought by the Bush administration that are designed to shore up the shaky financial footing of the Government Sponsored Enterprises, increasing the GSEs' line of credit with the Treasury while also creating more stringent regulations on them. The package is expected to pass the House easily despite the trepidation of some conservatives who question the wisdom of using taxpayer funding to bail out the housing behemoths. Senate passage is also likely, though a handful of dissidents could slow down consideration there.
The larger question surrounding the measure this week is whether President Bush will make good on his promise to veto the package if it contains $4 billion in grants for local communities to buy foreclosed properties. Democrats, who support that provision, suspect Bush wouldn't dare veto the measure over the issue.
On energy, the Senate is set to take up a bill cracking down on oil speculation Tuesday. The House may also return to energy issues, after having failed last week to clear Democrats' "use it or lose it" legislation designed to push oil companies to drill on their existing leases. The House could bring up its own oil speculation bill. though the majority has been somewhat hamstrung by its desire to avoid giving Republicans the opportunity to force a vote on opening new domestic territory to oil and gas exploration.
Aside from the housing package and possible energy bills, the House this week will take up a bridge repair bill and the Global AIDS measure that passed the Senate last week.
Check back with Capitol Briefing later today for thoughts on the week's agenda from aides to the top leaders in both chambers.
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