WASHINGTON -- Congress's annual practice of granting a temporary reprieve to the tax exemption for mortgage bonds has harmed issuers' ability to go to market t opportune times, driven up borroing costs, and hurt the program's effectiveness, Standard & Poor's Corp. said yesterday.

"For years, the specter of a possible sunset has led issuers to enter the market with bond issues at less than propitious times," the agency said in its latest issue of Creditweek Municipal.

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