The Senate voted 72-13 on Saturday to pass a landmark housing bill that will provide up to $300 billion in new FHA money for distressed homebuyers and create a new, tougher regulator for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the other housing GSEs. President Bush is expected to sign the bill by midweek. The House passed the bill last week. Among other things, the "Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008" permanently raises the Fannie/Freddie loan limit to $625,000 and bans downpayment assistance programs in regard to Federal Housing Administration loans. It also allows for the Treasury Department to invest in Fannie/Freddie securities, if need be. "For Americans out there today with distressed mortgages and worried about their economic future, we hope this legislation could be the first piece of good news in a long time," Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., told reporters over the weekend.

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