The timetable for passing legislation that would strengthen regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac this year slipped considerably on Thursday as members of the Senate Banking Committee said they need more time (and hearings) to sort out the issues.The Oct. 16 hearing made clear that the two government-sponsored enterprises staunchly oppose important elements of the Bush administration's plan to place the new GSE regulation in the Treasury Department. Treasury Secretary John Snow told the Senate panel that the GSE regulator should only be placed in his department if Congress agrees to give Treasury officials a role in guiding regulatory policies. Otherwise, he said he can live with a Fannie/Freddie regulator outside Treasury, but only if it is a strong and truly independent regulator. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., has scheduled another GSE hearing for Oct. 23. He hopes to mark up a GSE bill before Congress adjourns for the year, according to a committee spokesman. Meanwhile, Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., said there is still hope that a GSE bill could pass this year, and predicted that the release of an Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight report on Freddie Mac's accounting problems (which is expected soon) "will be pivotal."

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