111th Congress to waste no time in January.

Position:Briefing Book
 
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Mortgage market participants should brace for a less-than-sympathetic Democrat-controlled 111th Congress to hit the ground running directly after the new year, as law makers seek to waste no time crafting a legislative fix to the faltering economy, panelists told attendees at MBA's Commercial/Multifamily Capital Markets Winter Conference Washington, D.C., in early December.

There will be no shortage of legislative and regulatory challenges for the mortgage industry in 2009, according to Steve O'Connor, MBA's senior vice president of government affairs.

"The Democrats won the trifecta, winning the White House and substantially increasing their margins in both the House and in the Senate," said O'Connor. "But as the new 111th Congress comes into office in January, the next president will face extraordinary challenges--including the most severe financial crisis this nation has faced since the Great Depression."

Rather than wait for President-Elect Barack Obama to assume office on Jan. 20, the 111th Congress will spend the nearly three weeks before the inauguration crafting and passing a second economic-stimulus package in keeping with the stimulus plan Obama proposed in late November, said Catherine Cruz Wojtasik, MBA associate vice president of government affairs.

Wojtasik said the leadership structure on the major committees important to MBA is expected to remain status quo, including the following positions:

* Senate Banking Committee--Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (A-Alabama);

* Senate Finance Committee--Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa);

* House Financial Services Committee--Chairman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) and Ranking Member Spencer Bachus (D-Alabama).

At top of the agenda for both the Senate Banking and House Financial Services committees, Wojtasik said, will be the continued oversight of the Treasury Department's implementation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), as well as continued efforts at reform of the financial services sector....

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