Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has decided to drop out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination after finishing sixth in the Iowa caucuses with less than 1% of the vote."Only when you try can you truly make a difference in the world," Sen. Dodd told his supporters. "I am glad I tried." His early exit from the race will allow the committee chairman to move quickly in completing action on a Federal Housing Administration modernization bill. The Senate passed the FHA bill in December, and now it has to be reconciled with the House version. Supporters of the FHA bill are hoping the House and Senate conferees will be able to agree on a final version by mid-February. The Senate bill would raise the FHA loan limit to $417,000 in high-cost areas. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., wants to push it higher so the FHA can finance loans in high-cost areas of Massachusetts and California. One compromise being kicked around is a temporary increase -- to $525,000 for one year.

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