WASHINGTON - Earlier this week, it looked like Congress might again turn to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in order to pay for an extension of payroll tax cuts, extended unemployment insurance benefits, and higher Medicare reimbursement rates.
But the bipartisan deal reached Thursday leaves the two mortgage giants untouched, according to John Mechem, spokesman for the Mortgage Bankers Association.
There had been talk around the Capitol that Congress might raise the guarantee fees on Fannie and Freddie mortgages as a way to partially offset the cost of the deal. That's what happened back in December, when the mortgage firms' fees were raised in order to pay for a two-month extension of the payroll tax cuts.
The Mortgage Bankers Association, a trade group that represents lenders, had urged lawmakers not to rely on Fannie and Freddie borrowers a second time.
"I would urge policymakers to refrain from dipping back into the housing piggybank and paying for unrelated policy items on the backs of America's homebuyers," David Stevens, the group's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement issued Wednesday.
The legislative deal reached Thursday will only partially be paid for. It will generate an estimated $15 billion in revenue by authorizing the Federal Communications Commission to auction television airwave licenses to wireless firms.