This was a vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and determining which amendments could be offered to legislation authorizing the Department of Housing and Urban Development to raise the maximum premium paid by homeowners under the federal government’s mortgage insurance program.
The federal government’s mortgage insurance program is run by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), which was established during the Great Depression to make home ownership accessible and affordable for more Americans. It insures mortgages provided to homeowners by FHA-approved private lenders. The program is intended to shield private lenders participating in the program from losses that occur when homeowners default on their loans. The program is largely “self-sustaining” – meaning the taxpayers do not finance it. To keep the program solvent, the legislation raised premiums paid by homeowners receiving loans from FHA-approved lenders.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) praised the underlying legislation, saying it “provides FHA with the necessary tools to strengthen its mortgage insurance program and overall financial position. The collapse of the private sector in the wake of the financial crisis left a large void in the housing market.”
Republicans did not express opposition to the contents of the bill, but argued it would fail to address larger economic concerns – and criticized Democrats for blaming on former President George W. Bush for the economic crisis. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) said: “The legislation before us today brings some stability to the currently wavering housing market; but Americans are still concerned, Mr. Speaker, about the Democratic agenda…I think that increasing deficits, increasing spending, more taxes on business, shrinking job numbers, it's a sad day if we want to look back and blame everything on George Bush…For that reason, I encourage a…``no'' vote on the rule [the “rule” refers to the resolution setting a time limit for debate and determining which amendments could be offered to the bill].
The House agreed to this resolution by a vote of 239-172. 239 Democrats voted “yea.” All 168 Republicans present and 4 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House proceeded to formal floor debate on legislation authorizing the Department of Housing and Urban Development to raise the maximum premium paid by homeowners under the federal government’s mortgage insurance program.