The Federal Reserve Board this week began soliciting public comments on a proposed rule that would give mortgage lenders two ways to show they have sufficiently vetted a consumer's "ability to repay" a mortgage.

Due to lax underwriting during the subprime and alt-A era, Congress decided lenders should be held liable for making loans homebuyers cannot afford. But lawmakers also directed regulators to establish underwriting standards for a "qualified mortgage" that is so prudent lenders would be shielded from litigation.

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