Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato demanded Thursday that Congress vote on stalled legislation that would reform private mortgage insurance.

"We should bring this to a close," the New York Republican said at a subcommittee hearing. "This is unconscionable for us to have a situation where at minimum a quarter of a million working families are trapped into paying for lifetime contracts for mortgage insurance they no longer need."

Lawmakers so far have been unable to resolve conflicting versions of the legislation since last year.

The Senate approved a bill in November that would require lenders to automatically cancel private mortgage insurance when a borrower's equity in a home reaches 22%. For high-risk borrowers, however, lenders could require that insurance remain in place for half the life of a mortgage.

The House bill, passed in April 1997, would terminate insurance when equity reaches 25% and gives lenders no slack for high-risk loans.

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