As Patrick Rucker reported for Reuters:
The U.S. House of Representatives opened debate on Wednesday on a bill (HR 5830) that would create a $300 billion fund to save homeowners from foreclosure, but President George W. Bush threatened to veto the legislation which he said would "reward speculators and lenders."
Other measures would provide $15 billion to buy abandoned properties and offer a $7,500 tax credit to first-time home buyers in a sweeping bill that Bush has said was too costly and damaging to markets.
The plan looks certain to pass the Democrat-controlled House and the bill's sponsors expect many Republicans will defy the president and back their measure in the face of the current housing crisis.
Declining home values and rising foreclosures over the past 12 months have darkened the mood of U.S. consumers and pushed the economy toward recession. Recent reports show consumer confidence hit a five-year low in April, while home prices booked a record drop in February.
The Democratic plan combines a variety of new measures as well as some already-passed legislation in a bulky bill largely crafted by Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services committee.
Significantly, nearly a third of Republicans on Frank's committee voted for his portions of the housing bill.
Late on Tuesday, the White House threatened to veto the housing plan and took particular aim at a provision that would deliver $15 billion of federal grants to cities and towns so that they could buy foreclosed homes that are in disrepair.
Such spending would wrongly benefit the mortgage investors who now own those empty homes, the White House said in a statement.
Under the guise of being offended by the idea of bailing out speculators and lenders, the Bush Administration and its followers are punishing millions of honest hard working Americans, many of whom were victims of sub-prime mortgages and unscrupulous mortgage lenders, who are now facing foreclosure. The Bush Administration is also ignoring the situation of million of other home owners whose property value is declining due to the number of foreclosures and abandoned homes in their neighborhoods. As the value of homes owned by of this latter group declines, and they have taken out considerable home equity loans, may soon find themselves owing more for their home than it is worth.
During the same press conference both President Bush and Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) brought up drilling for oil in the Artic National Wildlife Reserve ( ANWR) and the FISA bill, leaving you with the feeling that the Housing Bill is being held hostage in exchange for more oil company profits and telecom immunity. This is unconscionable.