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May 16, 2014
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Senate Housing Finance Reform Bill Future Uncertain

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The Senate Banking Committee voted 13-9 to report the Johnson-Crapo Housing Finance Reform legislation out of committee and to the full Senate on May 15.  However, several Republicans and Democrats remained opposed to the legislation, authored by Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and ranking member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, so the vote margin was smaller than what was hoped for by legislation supporters.

“After exhausting every option to try and strike a deal quickly that would add votes at the committee level, I have concluded it is best to move forward with the majority we have now in committee and continue working to build support for the bill as it moves to the floor,” said Johnson.

The bill expands on legislation introduced last year by Senators Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Mark Warner, D-Va., and includes key provisions that NMHC/NAA advocated for on behalf of the industry. Specifically, the proposal recognizes the meaningful differences between the multifamily and single-family businesses currently in place at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and retains many of the successful components of the existing multifamily programs.

We issued a statement following the committee vote, applauding Senators Johnson and Crapo, and the entire Committee, for advancing the legislation.

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FHFA Director Watt Outlines Dramatic Shift in Strategy

Copyright: Dolce Vita

Mel Watt made his first major remarks as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) on May 13, where he outlined a dramatic shift in housing policy strategy.  Specifically, he emphasized that the agency will make changes that would allow banks to offer credit to a wider range of borrowers, which is a switch in philosophy from his predecessor Ed DeMarco who focused on shrinking Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s role in the mortgage market.

Watt announced the decision in a speech at the Brookings Institution where he presented FHFA’s 2014 Scorecard, saying that he was motivated by concerns about how a reduction in Fannie and Freddie’s role could “adversely impact the health of the current housing finance market."  "I do not see shrinking the GSEs market share as the job of FHFA,” said Watt.  “We do not want to remove them from a market without knowing private capital will step in."
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NMHC Insider
Partisan Politics Kills Bipartisan Energy Bill

The Senate fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance a popular, bipartisan energy-efficiency bill (S. 2262) authored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio on May 12, likely ending the legislation’s chances of passage this year.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-N.V., agreed to give Republicans a vote to approve or disapprove the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in exchange for allowing the bill to move forward.

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HUD Announces $1.5 Million in Support to Multifamily Partners in Better Buildings Challenge

HUD recently announced the availability of $1.5 million of direct technical assistance as part of the Better Buildings Challenge to help multifamily partners committed to meeting their energy-efficiency goals. The assistance is available to market-rate properties that participate in the program and could be used for a range of purposes, including diagnostic assessments, construction review, financing and portfolio planning.

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FCC Votes for Regulation to Preserve "Open Internet"

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 on May 15 to move forward with a proposal to prohibit Internet providers from blocking or slowing access to websites and web-based platforms. However, the proposal would allow “paid prioritization” deals between Internet and content providers that could effectively disadvantage some content, according to critics of the plan. The proposal would also expand transparency standards for providers, and establish a complaint and enforcement process to address anti-competitive practices that may prevent access and choice.

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Hill Watch
House Committee Hearing on Legislative Proposals to Reform Domestic Insurance Policy, Tues., May 20
BPC and Deloitte Symposium on "The Future of U.S. Housing and the Role of FHA," Tues., May 20
Media Roundup
Republicans Block Tax-Cut Bill, Leaving Breaks in Limbo
FCC Backs Opening Net Neutrality Rules for Debate
New York Times
As Congress Moves Slowly, Fannie-Freddie Work to Boost Housing Market
CBS News
McConnell: Senate Under Harry Reid a "Graveyard for Good Ideas"
The Hill
Senate Democrats Press House on Immigration
Extending the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act Will Help U.S. Business
The Hill
The Scoop

Department of Defense Sees Godzilla
Warner Bros. Pictures hosted an advanced screening of their latest “Godzilla” movie for U.S. Secretary of the Navy and 500 military personnel from the Department of Defense (DoD) this week. The screening was a “thank you” to the DoD for providing the filmmakers with access to naval aircraft carriers and experts to ensure that the movie appears realistic to audiences.

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