A proposal to hike guarantee fees on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for the second time in two months was floated Wednesday night during negotiations over a $150 billion bill that would extend the payroll tax deduction and unemployment benefits.
However, a g-fee hike does not seem to be part of the package that congressional leaders are expected to unveil later today, according to industry sources tracking the issue.
In December, Congress passed a two-month extension bill, funded by a 10 basis point hike in Fannie/Freddie g-fees.
During Wednesday's talks, it appears an additional g-fee hike was floated to help pay for the 10-month extension bill, which also ensures reimbursement rates for Medicare doctors.
It appears that Republicans were reluctant to accept another g-fee hike, because it would make the federal government even more dependent on the GSEs as a source of revenues. The 10 basis point g-fee hike that goes into effect in April is expected to raise $35 billion over 10 years to pay for the cost of the two-month extension.
Many Republican lawmakers want to wind down Fannie and Freddie and privatize them. Nevertheless, the g-fee option remains enticing for some in Congress as it gets harder to find sources of revenue to pay for government programs.
Housing and other industry groups have made clear to Congress that they oppose the use of g-fees as a source to fund other government programs.
"We are united in opposition to increasing g-fees and [Federal Housing Administration or FHA] premiums for reasons other than minimizing the GSEs' or FHA's risk exposure, shoring up capital reserves and ensuring the liquidity of the secondary mortgage market," according to a joint letter signed by 19 trade groups.
As part of the two-month extension, Congress also increased the annual premiums on FHA loans by 10 basis points. But the premium revenues will remain with FHA to shore up its reserves.