GSE reform unlikely to happen this year: Mnuchin

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin cast doubt Monday on Congress' tackling housing finance reform this year, saying reform of the government-sponsored enterprises is more likely to be a focus in 2019.

"Unfortunately, I just don't think this is going to be a focus in this Congress," Mnuchin said in a television interview with Fox Business. "But we'll come back to this next year and this will be a big focus of mine post the elections."

Mnuchin said he sees a big opportunity for GSE reform when Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt’s term ends in 2019. Watt is an Obama administration appointee.

“We also have the ability to replace" the FHFA director, he said. " ... That’s something that we’re going to look at and make sure there’s someone in that job that supports the agenda.”

Despite the timetable, Mnuchin said he is still determined to take Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of conservatorship.

While Mnuchin did not provide specific details on a GSE reform plan, he said he would like to maintain the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

“I think that having a government guarantee on a 30-year mortgage is important for liquidity in the markets, “ he said. “There’s various different solutions. What gets done here will need to be on a bipartisan basis.”

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