ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf Reports from Capitol Hill: The bipartisan housing bill currently before the Senate appears to be bipartisan only in the Senate.
As senators prepare to vote on the sweeping bill, which seeks to create an up to $300 billion program to refinance at-risk mortgages into private loans with government backing, over in the House, Republicans are getting ready to play some strong defense against it with the barely related but symbolically powerful special loans that some Democratic senators received from Countrywide.
Several House Republicans had called last week for hearings on the "Friends of Angelo" program, named for former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, but with the Senate poised to pass its Housing legislation soon, a high profile, anti-housing bill Republican, the minority leader, called again for hearings.
"Before the House moves forward on a massive housing bailout at the expense of every American taxpayer, there are significant questions that must be answered about the ‘Friends of Angelo’ program and the sweetheart loans provided to key Democratic lawmakers," House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, says in a statement.
House Financial Services Committee Chair Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., had rejected the calls for a hearing last week. But those calls were not coming from the Minority Leader. If nothing else, today’s statement from Boehner represents a digging in against the bill by House Republican leaders, even if they lack the power or the votes to ultimately derail it.
"I am also concerned by news reports suggesting that banks wrote the bailout provisions of this bill to allow them to ‘cherry-pick’ the mortgages that are least likely to be repaid and dump the debt on taxpayers," Boehner said, referring to an allegation made in a Wall Street Journal editorial and a story in today’s Washington Post that showed banks lobbied heavily for the bill.