The Senate will try again to bring a housing stimulus package to the floor this week. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s proposal failed to reach the 60 votes needed to end debate on February 28, but with housing woes worsening across the country and the presidential candidates giving more attention to housing policy, the bill may have increasing support in the Senate.
The bill would provide $4 billion in grants for cities to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed properties—as called for by the Center for American Progress’ GARDNS proposal—as well as $200 million in funding for financial counseling services to homeowners. A controversial bankruptcy provision that would allow judges to write down the principal of a loan to reflect its current market value remains in the bill, even though it has drawn a veto threat from the president. A cloture vote is expected on Tuesday.
On Thursday the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on how to address recent turmoil in financial markets. The hearing will include testimony from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson; Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke; Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox; Timothy Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Alan Schwartz, president and CEO of Bear Stearns; and James Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase.
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The Iraq war returns to the spotlight this week as Congress holds several hearings in preparation for next week’s testimony by General David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on April 8 and 9.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings on post-surge military and political prospects for Iraq on Wednesday. On Thursday the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on army modernization and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the outlook for Iraq.
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This week the House and Senate Democrats will begin conference negotiations to reconcile their two budget resolutions. The only major difference between the two resolutions is the inclusion of reconciliation instructions addressing Medicare and the alternative minimum tax in the House-passed budget.
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