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This Week in Congress 7.21.08 – 7.25.08

CAP has the resources you need to stay on top of housing, appropriations, energy, and infrastructure this week.

Housing

The House is scheduled to vote on the latest version of the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act, HR 3221, on Wednesday, incorporating Treasury Secretary Paulson’s plan to provide government backing to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae into the larger housing package. Paulson’s plan would temporarily increase the government’s line of credit for the mortgage giants, allow the Treasury to buy equity in the two companies, and give the Federal Reserve the ability to consult their regulator when setting capital standards.

The larger housing package would overhaul the Federal Housing Administration and allow it to guarantee up to $300 billion in subprime loans. It will also create an affordable-housing trust fund to provide about $500 million to low-income residents each year. In exchange for adopting Paulson’s plan to aid Fannie and Freddie, House Democrats have insisted on the inclusion of about $4 billion for Community Development Block Grant funding called for by the Center for American Progress.

The House is expected to vote on the package Wednesday, with the Senate following suit later in the week. Congressional leaders are hoping to be able to send the bill to the president by the end of the week.

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Energy

The Senate is expected to consider an energy speculation bill on Tuesday. The bill will add staff to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to confront oil speculation and limit the amount of futures contracts an investor can own. Republicans are looking to amend the bill to allow for oil exploration in the outer continental shelf and other areas that are currently off limits.

House Democrats are also looking for a way to bring possible energy speculation legislation or a bill to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to the floor this week.

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Infrastructure

The House will consider a bill to authorize $1 billion for FY 2009 to help fix structurally deficient bridges across the country. The bill, sponsored by Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar, is a response to the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis last August.

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Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a markup for a second economic stimulus package on Tuesday. The package is likely to include $50 billion in spending on things such as infrastructure, tax rebates for the middle class, food stamps, home heating oil assistance, extended unemployment insurance, and increased federal aid to states for Medicaid.

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