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This Week in Congress 5.5.08-5.9.08

CAP has the resources you need to prepare for immigration, the housing debate, and the farm bill.

Housing

The House will spend Wednesday and Thursday considering legislation aimed at alleviating the current housing crisis, including H.R. 5818, the Neighborhood Stabilization Act. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), establishes a $15 billion loan and grant program to purchase and rehabilitate vacant, foreclosed homes, as called for by the Center for American Progress’s Great American Dream Neighborhood Stabilization, or GARDNS, plan.

Another housing package, put together by Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), would create a program to allow the Federal Housing Administration to insure up to $300 billion in loans to borrowers who are facing foreclosure. The bill will include an overhaul of the FHA mortgage insurance program and will strengthen oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Chairman Frank’s package will also set up a $500 million affordable housing trust fund.

In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on Tuesday on “Home Mortgage Lender Misconduct.”

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Farm Bill

The Farm Bill conference committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to vote on remaining details and final passage of the Farm Bill conference report. The conference report or another extension will need to be passed before the current extension expires on May 16. The president has threatened to veto the bill if it does not include a number of reforms, including changes to current crop subsidy rules. Congressional leaders are hoping they will have enough support for the bill to either dissuade the president from vetoing the bill or override his veto.

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Immigration

On Tuesday the House Ways and Means Committee is holding a hearing on “Employment Eligibility Verification Systems.” The hearing will look at a proposal that would require employers to verify the citizenship status of all newly hired employees and how the Social Security Administration would be affected by the added strain.

Members of the House Homeland Security Committee travel to Arizona on Friday to examine the administration’s virtual fence program to see firsthand how the first 28 miles of the fence are working and the problems that have been reported about the program.

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Energy and Environment

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on whether politics is interfering with regulatory decision-making at the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the Energy Department’s restructuring of the FutureGen program, a government-sponsored project to equip coal plants with carbon capture and storage technology.

On Thursday, EPA Director Stephen Johnson is expected to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the EPA’s new ozone standards.

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