WASHINGTON — Several housing groups are urging lawmakers to stop using certain fee increases at government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offset unrelated spending.
The Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Home Builders and National Association of Realtors wrote to Senate leaders and the heads of the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday, warning that continued use of increases to "guarantee fees" for budget purposes could slow down efforts to reform the housing finance system. The Senate's proposed budget plan includes a provision mandating higher g-fees.
"Though we are seeing current signs of improvement in the real estate sector, we must avoid taking any steps that could keep housing consumers on the sidelines and hinder that recovery," the letter says. "Moreover, adopting yet another non-housing related g-fee increase will actually tie policymakers' hands and act to hinder and delay implementation of the necessary reforms required of these Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs)."
The letter adds: "[W]e respectfully request that you remove the proposed use of g-fees as a revenue source in S. Con. Res. 8. We would be supportive of amendments that may be offered by Senators to accomplish this purpose."
The legislation would build upon a 10 basis point g-fee increase Congress passed in 2011 to offset a two-month extension of a payroll tax break. The fee increase was set to expire in 2021, but would be extended through 2023 under the plan. That amounts to $7.6 billion in higher fees over those additional years that count as spending reductions, according to a spokesman for MBA.
A bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation earlier this month that would prohibit such fee hikes, and ban the sale of preferred shares of the firms without congressional approval.