House Republicans unveiled sweeping legislation to unwind Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and overhaul the mortgage finance system on Thursday — a plan that, as expected, contrasts sharply with bipartisan legislation pending in the Senate.
The Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners Act, authored by Reps. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Randy Neugebauer of Texas and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, calls for ending the conservatorship of the government-sponsored enterprises within five years, narrows the mission of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and calls for the development of a National Mortgage Market Utility to develop common standards for private mortgage origination, servicing and securitization.
"At the end of the day, what we have before you is a draft document that I believe will be good for the homeowner and good for the taxpayer and will get us to what we're trying to achieve, which is a sustainable housing market," said Garrett at a press briefing on the legislation.
A discussion draft of the bill will be released later on Thursday, and formal legislation is expected to be introduced later this month.
As many had predicted, the comprehensive bill broadly centers on reducing government involvement in the housing system. Unlike pending legislation by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Mark Warner, D-Va., which would provide a catastrophic government backstop for the system through a new regulator, the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation, the House bill expressly prohibits its proposed mortgage utility from originating, servicing or guaranteeing any mortgage or mortgage-backed security.
The House plan would also make significant changes to the FHA, splitting it off from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and rolling back its mission to serving first-time and low- and moderate-income borrowers. Other measures in the plan include repealing the Dodd-Frank Act's credit risk retention requirement and requiring a two-year "stop-and-study" delay for small banks under Basel III, so that regulators can review the impact and cost of the standards.
The American Securitization Form issued a statement expressing "strong support" for the bill, saying it would "go a long way towards helping ensure that private capital can replace government involvement in the mortgage market over time.”