The clock is ticking on legislation to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Mortgage Bankers Association warned Monday at its National Secondary Market Conference in Chicago.Worried that only a few months are left before lawmakers plan to return to their home districts for the November elections, the MBA's chief lobbyist, Kurt Pfotenhauer, said the now-or-never point is rapidly approaching in the effort to create a new, more powerful regulator for the government-sponsored enterprises. "If GSE reform is going to go forward, action has to be taken soon," Mr. Pfotenhauer told a news briefing. Two issues stand in the way of passage, according to an MBA briefing paper: the size of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's portfolios, and the creation of affordable housing funds paid for by fees imposed on the two GSEs. Mr. Pfotenhauer, the MBA's senior vice president for government affairs, said legislators agree on too much to leave the effort on the table, and that reform is "too important" to let pass without action. But he warned that if they don't find common ground on the two divisive issues, the opportunity for passage may be lost indefinitely. "What the GSEs do is invisible to most Americans and typically not understood by a broad section of legislators," he told reporters. While recent accounting scandals "have put the GSEs on the front burner" for now, the MBA fears that GSE reform doesn't have the public interest necessary to command the attention of Congress, Mr. Pfotenhauer said.

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