WASHINGTON - A bill overhauling regulation of government-sponsored enterprises was dealt a setback last week, jeopardizing one of the last possible vehicles for bank regulatory relief this year.
The Senate version of the bill, which would have directly affected the Federal National Mortgage Association and other federally chartered financing agencies, included amendments to ease what bankers call their "regulatory burden."
When the politically powerful Fannie Mae said Friday that it opposed the compromise worked out by House and Senate banking committee aides, the banker-supported clarification of real estate appraisal and executive compensation requirements suffered a setback.
The bill also would have delayed implementation of the Truth-in-Savings Act and eased cleanup liability for lenders.
Bankers had hoped that some of those measures could have been kept in the final bill on government-sponsored enterprises or, if not, that they could be added to a housing authorization measure.
"They've been bouncing back and forth lately on whether to use [the GSE] bill or the housing bill" for regulatory relief, said Edward L. Yingling, executive director of government relations for the American Bankers Association. "Obviously, we want as many vehicles as possible."
"The housing bill may be our last chance now," added Stephen Verdier, a lobbyist for the Independent Bankers Association of America.
Congressional sources indicated that the banking committees were unlikely to alter their compromise to satisfy Fannie Mae. The bill could be back on the House floor as early as Wednesday, and Senate action could follow quickly if it clears the House.
Fannie Mae chairman James A. Johnson told the chairmen of the House and Senate banking committees that the measure worked out by their staffs would give the government too much discretion in setting risk-based capital standards for his agency.
Fannie Mae had wanted the law to spell out guidelines for risk-based capital measures.
"The staff draft would lead to higher mortgage interest rates, cause a credit crunch in home mortgages, choke off Fannie Mae's ability to expand its impact on unmet housing needs, and allow for the micro-management of the secondary market by HUD," Mr. Johnson wrote in a letter to Sen. Donald W. Riegle, D-Mich., Senate Banking Committee chairman.
A new regulatory agency proposed in the bill for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be in the Department of Housing and Urban Development.