Early Briefing: Housing Bill Set to Pass

*The House easily approved legislation that seeks to slow the steepest slide in house prices in a generation, rescue hundreds of thousands of homeowners at risk of foreclosure and reassure global markets that mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will not be allowed to fail. The Senate plans to vote on the bill within days and send it to President Bush. The White House announced that Bush would sign the measure.

*The deciding vote on the Federal Communications Commission was leaning toward approving the merger of XM and Sirius satellite radio companies, according to sources with knowledge of the negotiations. Federal Communications Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate was said to be ready to cast her vote in support of the union between the two, with some conditions, 17 months after the companies announced plans to merge.

*The cost of the proposed Metrorail line through Tysons Corner jumped by $54 million yesterday, reflecting rising construction costs as state and federal officials continue to haggle over the project. The contractor, Dulles Transit Partners, will now be paid $1.63 billion. The company and officials overseeing the project also pushed back the start and completion dates. Construction would begin March 2 and finish in July 2013. The work was originally to be done by August 2012.

Steel, concrete, energy and other costs have continued to rise, pending a final agreement on $900 million in federal funds for the rail project, which backers say would be the backbone of economic development and transportation policies in Northern Virginia for decades.

*A Herndon-based company says it has developed a revolutionary urine test for human growth hormone that can detect human growth hormone as much as two weeks after its use and could be implemented by sports anti-doping agencies in as little as six months. Ceres Nanosciences CEO Thomas M. Dunlap said its urine-only test will satisfy sports leagues that have objected to blood tests for HGH as too invasive. HGH is believed to be widely abused by athletes.

Dunlap said the urine test potentially will be less costly and more effective than the current blood test, which has a detection window of 48 hours or less. The test uses nanotechnology to collect tiny particles of HGH in the urine and clump them together so they can be seen by standard lab testing equipment.

By Terri Rupar  |  July 24, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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