WASHINGTON — A foreclosure rescue bill cleared a key Senate test Tuesday by an 83-9 vote.
The mortgage aid plan would let the Federal Housing Administration back $300-billion in cheaper home loans for about 400,000 distressed borrowers who otherwise would be considered too financially risky to qualify for government-insured, fixed-rate loans.
The plan is on track for Senate passage as early as today, but President Bush is threatening a veto, and Democrats are fighting each other over key details. Those challenges will probably delay any final deal until July.
Borrowers would be eligible for the housing rescue if their mortgage holders were willing to take a substantial loss and allow them to refinance, and if they could show an ability to repay the new loan. They would ultimately have to share with the government a portion of any profits they made from selling or refinancing their properties.
Medicare cut: The House overwhelmingly passed legislation that would stop a 10.6 percent cut for doctors who see patients on Medicare. The legislation would pay for the extra expense by trimming payments to private health insurers. The legislation passed 355-59 despite a veto threat by President Bush.
Gas gouging: House Democrats failed Tuesday to resurrect a bill to punish price gouging at the gas pump, while maneuvering to block Republican attempts to expand offshore drilling. Action on legislation that would assure continuation of the ban on oil and natural gas drilling was put off until later this summer after it became increasingly clear that Republican lawmakers may have the votes to lift the drilling moratorium.
Arms contract: Military officials promised changes Tuesday after congressional Democrats and Republicans expressed anger that Efraim Diveroli, 21, of Miami Beach, who is on a State Department watch list and has a history of offering excuses for failing to deliver on military contracts, was awarded a $298-million deal to arm allied forces in Afghanistan.