WASHINGTON — Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Barbara Boxer of California have reintroduced a bill that Democrats argue would help millions of borrowers refinance their mortgages.

The bill, which would make it easier for more homeowners with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages to refinance, stalled in the Senate Banking Committee last summer over a partisan dispute about whether other housing-related amendments could be added to the legislation. The bill's sponsors then offered a slimmed-down version of the bill in September, but lawmakers did not take it up during the lame duck session.

The Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act, reintroduced Thursday, would relax requirements for borrowers to refinance and would extend the Home Affordable Refinance Program for an extra year through 2014, among other changes.

"We need to bring much-needed relief now to hard working, responsible homeowners who are struggling to keep up with their high interest rate loans — including thousands in New Jersey whom I have heard from," said Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee. "We need to do this before interest rates go up again. It's time that Congress finally put families first and give homeowners who have played by the rules a fair chance to refinance at today's low rates."

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