White House Pushes Refinancing Expansion Before Election

by 10 Sep 2012

(Bloomberg) -- The White House is urging the U.S. Senate to vote as soon as this week on an expansion of a government mortgage refinancing program, a move that could showcase President Barack Obama’s support for policies aiding homeowners before the Nov. 6 presidential election.

Democratic leaders are considering adding the measure expanding the Home Affordable Refinancing Program to their agenda for the two-week Senate session that begins today, Senate aides said.

Win or lose, a vote on the bill could help the president. If enough Republicans sign on, the vote could show momentum for his efforts to help the 11.3 million borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth. If Republicans vote against the measure, Democrats can paint them as unsympathetic to homeowners, said Jaret Seiberg, senior policy analyst at Guggenheim Securities’ Washington Research Group.

“This is an effort by the president and his administration to say we’re trying to help people refinance and blame blocking action on Republicans,” Seiberg said in an interview.

The pressure for an immediate vote is coming from the Obama administration, according to Senator Robert Corker of Tennessee, a Republican on the Banking Committee. The White House press office did not respond to e-mails requesting comment.

“My guess is they may get the votes. If they get the votes, they want to do it in a way that tries to show a divide,” Corker said.

The Senate session may last as few as six days. Even if senators manage to pass it in that time frame, the bill has little chance of becoming law since Republicans who control the House have no plans for a companion measure.

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