In the House … The House passedlegislationWednesday that seeks to rescue the housing market, but also grants the Treasury Department authority to protect (read: bail out) Fannie Maeand Freddie Mac. The Postcalled the bill “the most sweeping federal overhaul of the mortgagefinance system since the Great Depression.” It will provide $4 billionin block grants for local communities to buy up foreclosed properties,as well as tax credits for struggling first-time homebuyers. (Criticsnote that incentivizing more home purchases at this point may not beprudent). In order to bail out Fannie and Freddie (and, notably, theirshareholders), the bill also raises the ceiling on the national debt to$10.6 trillion. The bill’s supporters now seek final approval by theSenate. President Bush rescinded his veto threat, essentially insuringthe bill will become law. The House Armed Services Committee reviewed the military’s “Don’tAsk, Don’t Tell” policy Wednesday. The hearing comes as Rep. EllenTauscher introduced a bill that would repeal the policy. A recentWashington Post/ABC News poll found that 75 percent of respondentssupported allowing gays to serve openly in the military, up from 62percent in 2001 and 44 percent in 1993. Democrats failed for the third time Thursday tomove a measure forward that would release oil from the StrategicPetroleum Reserve. Despite picking up 37 votes, and passing 268-157, itfailed to pick up the two-thirds majority necessary to clear aprocedural hurdle.
In the Senate … A bill that would have given the government newauthority to rein in oil speculators failed a Senate provisionalvote 50-43, failing to garner the 60 votes required to overcome a GOPfilibuster. Republicans contested that the bill should contain aprovision for offshore drilling and oil shale field development in theWest. Republican Senator Jim DeMint said Wednesday said he wants propose anamendment to the Housing bill that would prevent mortgage companiesfrom lobbying Congress. He threatened to the stall senate withprocedural delays until his bill was brought for a vote. It’s currentlyscheduled to be voted on on Saturday. Attorney General Terry Goddard andSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid gave testimony on polygamy related crimes Thursday tothe Senate Judiciary Committee. “The lawless conduct of polygamouscommunities in the United States deserves national attention and federalaction,” Reid said.