Reps. Marge Roukema, Doug Bereuter and Richard Baker have reportedly taken three vital housing-related House Banking subcommittee chairs that will shape key issues including FHA and CRA for mortgage bankers and credit unions.

Bereuter, R-Neb., who sources said was debating between chairmanship of the housing subcommittee and international relations subcommittees, will take control of the new housing and community development subcommittee. Bereuter, who recently pushed for legislation aimed at easing the regulatory burden of both banks and thrifts, will now focus on FHA issues.

Mortgage bankers said they were encouraged by the selection of Bereuter, mostly because of his past interest in housing. The important thing is that he has experience in housing issues, said one mortgage banking lobbyist. There will still be a lot of tough decisions to make, but he has been generally supportive of those issues and has been positive toward FHA and small banks.

Roukema, R-N.J., reportedly accepted the chair to the Financial Institutions Subcommittee, a move that encouraged mortgage bankers leery of the recent push toward imposing on them CRA-type regulations. Theyre hoping that Roukema, who comes from the Wall Street- influenced northern New Jersey, will opt for less onerous requirements Baker, R-La., will take over matters related to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other government-sponsored enterprises as chair of the capital markets subcommittee.

The new lineupscheduled to be confirmed Dec. 10also offers insight into how the Congress will operate, in sum, with committee chairmen taking their lead from Speaker-designate Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. That will be a shift in House Banking from the current system, where Chairman Henry B. Gonzalez, D-Texas, allowed subcommittee chairmen a great deal of flexibility. Leach will run a tighter ship, sharing less authority with subcommittee chairmen.

The committee assignments in the House are aimed in equal measure at increasing efficiency, and eliminating to the extent possible any platform in the Congress that Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, D-Mass., can use to further his liberal agenda and political career.

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