The new chairman of the House GSE subcommittee is looking for "immediate steps" Congress can take to reign in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae and reduce their role in the mortgage market.
Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., encouraged witnesses at a hearing Wednesday to discuss ways to raise GSE guarantee fees and lower their loan limits to create room for private label issuers to return to the mortgage market. But he largely dismissed a comprehensive GSE proposal that the Treasury Department is slated to unveil on Friday.
"While a lot of attention has been given to the impending Treasury proposal and what the future of the housing finance system will look like, I believe there are other areas of this debate we can focus on now," Garrett said.
It appears he is not interested, at least at this point in time, in grappling with comprehensive GSE proposals — whether authored by the Obama Administration or GOP colleagues like Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who wants to privatize the GSEs over a five-year period.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chided the Republicans for pressing him to pass the Hensarling GSE bill last year but now (with the GOP in control of the House) there is no hurry. "I think what they're finding is that it's a little more complicated than what they thought," Frank said, adding that Republicans do not want to be held responsible for any disruptions in the mortgage market.