House Republicans Vote to Eliminate Two Mortgage Relief Programs

Next week they will target two more.

Posted: 03/11/2011 07:45 PM EST
Maxine Waters

The House of Representatives this week scrapped two programs designed to assist struggling homeowners. First on the chopping block was the Federal Housing Administration Refinance Program, established to help homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth to refinance their mortgages at lower rates. Republicans say the program is ineffective and largely unused and passed the FHA Refinance Program Termination Act on Thursday with a vote of 256–171.

Next up was the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program Termination Act, passed to eliminate a program established to provide emergency loans to unemployed homeowners facing foreclosure. House lawmakers passed the bill Friday afternoon, 242–177. House Republican Policy Committee chairman Tom Price (R-Georgia) issued a statement following the vote saying that under Republican rule, “the days of spending what we do not have on programs that do not work are over.”

The White House will veto the bills if they ever pass both chambers. Still, most Democrats, like California Rep. Maxine Waters, are appalled by the voracity of GOP lawmakers’ desire to eliminate programs and other provisions that many of their own constituents rely on.

“They have no fear,” she said, adding that one Republican likened the FHA program to putting money down a rat hole. “Since African-Americans were targeted in the subprime mess and meltdown, being unable to get assistance form their government means they’re going to lose their homes.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) is the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has investigated the FHA program. He said that there is bipartisan agreement that it isn’t working the way it should, but Republicans want to kill it, while Democrats hope to “mend it, not end it.”

Next week the Republican leadership hopes to nix the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Home Affordable Modification Program. They represent two of three programs on the GOP’s YouCut website, created by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) to allow people to vote on which programs should be eliminated.

But according to Cummings, the American public should instead voice anger over the fact that Republicans seem to prefer spending their tax dollars to bail out banks rather than helping them keep their homes.

Before Friday’s vote, Cummings expressed his own anger. Speaking from the House floor, he said, “I wonder what it’s going to feel like on Sunday when my colleagues go to church, read from the same Bible that I read from, and can brag about the fact that they were able to kill a program that would allow some 30,000 people to stay in their own homes, while at the same time when I go to church, I’ll have to explain why they did it.”

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images