Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has introduced a bill that would temporarily raise the caps on Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's portfolios as Democrats in Congress are becoming increasingly frustrated with federal regulators who insist on maintaining the caps at a time when the secondary market for many mortgage products has dried up.In a letter to the Federal Reserve Board, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., says it doesn't make sense to expect the two government-sponsored enterprises to help with the refinancing of subprime borrowers unless they have room in their portfolios to buy the loans. Forcing the GSEs to sell their best mortgage-backed securities and buy riskier assets will diminish the quality of their portfolios and raise safety-and-soundness concerns, Rep. Frank says in a letter to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Separately, Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight Director James Lockhart says the portfolio caps are not hindering the GSEs from helping subprime borrowers. "Most new refinance loans of such borrowers can be securitized," Mr. Lockhart says in a letter to Sen. Schumer. The New York senator's bill would raise the portfolio cap by 10% so the GSEs could purchase $145 billion in new mortgages and increase the GSE conforming loan limit from $417,000 to $625,000 in high-cost areas.

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