President Bush is calling on the Senate to pass a Federal Housing Administration modernization bill that the House passed July 25 by a resounding 415-7 vote."This bill will improve FHA's ability to help lower- and moderate-income families achieve the American Dream," President Bush said. "I encourage the Senate to join the House and pass this critical legislation." The FHA reform bill (H.R. 5121) would give the FHA single-family mortgage insurance program the flexibility to charge risk-based premiums on low and zero-downpayment loans. It also raises FHA loan limits and expands the FHA reverse-mortgage program for seniors. In the Senate, the FHA reforms have gone nowhere. Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala, has asked the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of the administration's FHA reform proposals, which FHA supporters consider a delaying tactic. "We realize that FHA is in need of reform," Senate Banking Committee spokesman Andrew Gray said. But he noted that Chairman Shelby doesn't have a timeline for committee action. When asked about the GAO study, Mr. Gray said completion of the study is not "necessarily a prerequisite" for legislative action. "But we would like that information," he added.

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