The Senate Banking Committee may consider granting the Federal Home Loan Banks the explicit authority to issue and guarantee mortgage-backed securities at a mark-up of a GSE regulatory reform bill on Thursday.Sens. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., have filed the MBS amendment with the committee, although sources indicate that they may withdraw the amendment because it is likely to be voted down. The FHLBanks and the banking associations are divided on the issue, and committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., is not likely to support any Democratic amendments unless the sponsors are willing to vote for his bill, which would establish tough portfolio limits on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Observers says they expect the committee to pass Sen. Shelby's GSE bill on an 11-9 party-line vote with few changes, possibly including an amendment by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., to revise Fannie's and Freddie's affordable housing goals. The committee will also vote Thursday on the nominations of John Dugan to be comptroller of the currency and John Reich to be the director of the Office of Thrift Supervision.

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