A Republican alternative to Sen. Chris Dodd's massive financial services bill gives the mortgage banking industry hope that Congress understands the dire need for an exemption on MBS risk retention.

According to an outline prepared by Sen. Richard Shelby's staff, an exemption on the 5% risk retention rule would be granted for loans that "meet minimum underwriting standards" established by bank regulators.

However, no details are provided in the outline. All factions of the mortgage industry are lobbying furiously for a risk retention exception for issuers of bonds backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA loans.

Language in the Shelby outline regarding risk retention is more specific than what is in the Dodd bill. However, lobbyists say Dodd has been open to more specific language on risk retention. Some industry participations believe that if no "carve out" is granted, a new round of consolidation will result in large players having even more control over the industry than they do now.

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