House, Senate Committees Hold Separate Hearings On Housing Finance Reform


On March 19, the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee each held a hearing to review issues related to housing finance post-federal conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The House committee heard from Acting FHFA Director Edward DeMarco, while the Senate committee heard from non-governmental groups with reform proposals. The hearings mark the beginning of a process expected to play out over the course of the coming months to develop consensus on legislation to reform the housing finance sector. Each of the hearings covered numerous topics, but in each the central issue for debate was the appropriate level of government involvement in the mortgage market. On that primary issue, there was broad consensus that the current conservatorship role of the government should end. However, some stakeholders argued the government should play no role in the reformed market, while others believe a limited, protected government backstop would be necessary to support an affordable, stable housing market. Mr. DeMarco did not take positions on the broad policy issues, but repeated his commitment to implementing the FHFA’s Strategic Plan while positioning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to meet whatever requirements policymakers choose to impose.

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