Senate Republicans have blocked Democrats from rushing to the floor a foreclosure prevention bill that allows bankruptcy judges to restructure subprime and certain nontraditional mortgages. Democrats mustered only 48 of the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and start debate on the bill (S. 3221), which also provides revenue bonds for refinancing subprime borrowers and federal grants to purchase foreclosed properties. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the vote a "big victory" for Wall Street, big banks, and mortgage bankers. But as for the millions of people facing foreclosure, "they lost," Sen. Reid said. The American Financial Services Association's top lobbyist, Bill Himpler, said the industry could support the foreclosure prevention bill if the bankruptcy provision is stripped from the package. With all the market turmoil, this is not the time to consider changes to the bankruptcy code that would "essentially undermine investor confidence in mortgage lending," he said. The Democrats will likely push for another vote before March 15, when the Senate takes a two-week break. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a March 6 mark-up of two competing mortgage bankruptcy bills. The bill sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., was included in S. 3221. The other bill, sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., allows bankruptcy judges to reduce or freeze the interest rate on adjustable-rate mortgages.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the mortgage industry

30-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the mortgage industry