The Bush administration generally supports the GSE bill drafted by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., but the bill could be improved by imposing tougher affordable housing goals and a stricter product approval process, according to Treasury Secretary John Snow."A new first-time homebuyer goal should be instituted, requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to serve key housing policy objectives, particularly with respect to underserved populations," Secretary Snow says in a letter to Sen. Shelby. The secretary also urged the Alabama senator to strengthen the product approval process for the government-sponsored enterprises. It took the Treasury secretary four days to express his lukewarm support for Shelby's bill, even though the bill includes a receivership provision, which is a priority for the Bush administration. Any effort to weaken the receivership powers would be "unworthy of the reform efforts you have championed," Secretary Snow says in the March 30 letter to the Sen. Shelby. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., plans to eliminate the receivership provision during the banking committee mark-up of the GSE bill, which is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

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