September 9, 2015

In Case You Missed It: A Look at Recent National Housing Policy News

Prospect of Another Shutdown Looms as Congress Girds for Fights Over Spending
When Congress returns for business on Tuesday, lawmakers have scheduled a mere 12 legislative days to find a bipartisan compromise to keep the government open, vote on one of the most contentious foreign policy matters in a generation, reconcile the future of funding for Planned Parenthood and roll out the red carpet — and a few thousand folding chairs — to greet Pope Francis.
What could go wrong?  Ignoring the advice that one should never go to bed angry, members of Congress left for their home states in August with two major fights at full boil.  One dispute is over the Iran nuclear accord, which congressional Republicans and a number of Democrats oppose, set for debate in both chambers this week. Democrats, who have 36 votes in the Senate backing the accord, will try to add five more, which would allow them to block a Senate vote on a resolution to disapprove the deal. Democrats already have enough votes to sustain a veto of the resolution by President Obama, meaning that either way the Iran accord will go into effect.  The other fight is fiscal. Congress must come to a broad new agreement that lifts legally imposed spending caps — the preference of Mr. Obama — or, more likely, pass a short-term measure, known as a continuing resolution, to keep the lights on in government buildings for the rest of the year. Current spending laws expire on Oct. 1.

DOJ, CFPB Officials Warn More 'Redlining' Cases on Way
The Justice Department is continuing to find cases of lenders steering minority borrowers into higher cost loans three years after the agency forced several large banks into landmark settlements cracking down on the practice, according to a top DOJ official.  "Based on what is on my docket right now, stayed tuned," said Steven Rosenbaum, chief of housing and civil enforcement at DOJ's civil rights division, during a fair housing conference on Wednesday. "There are still lenders who seem to think it is okay to steer minority borrowers to certain loan officers or certain brokers who they know will charge more."  Speaking at the conference, which was hosted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he noted that another "old nemesis" is making a comeback — redlining, the practice of lenders charging more for products or excluding altogether minorities within certain geographic areas.

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