The Independent Streak Dodd Fallout: GOP Senators Pushing Housing Bill Delay
The timing for Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) could not have been worse: Just as the Senate Banking Committee chairman was finalizing a bipartisan deal on legislation aiming to stem the nation’s foreclosure crisis, Portfolio magazine breaks the news that he received special rates from Countrywide Financial when he refinanced homes in Washington and Connecticut in 2003.
Now, some Senate Republicans want to delay action on Dodd’s foreclosure bill to examine its effects on Countrywide. From the June 18 letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
We are also concerned with recent allegations related to Countrywide Financial, a private entity that by some estimates would receive more than $2.5 billion in benefits from this bill. We request that you delay consideration until we have adequate time to read the bill and better understand the allegations and how much Countrywide will benefit from the bill.
Nine conservative Republicans signed the letter: Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Tom Coburn (Ok.), Jim Inhofe (Ok.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Jim Bunning (Ky.), David Vitter (La.) Roger Wicker (Miss.), Mike Enzi (Wy.) and John Ensign (Nev.). Not that Reid would ever take their request seriously — it is, after all, just a political exercise to embarrass Dodd (i.e. Democrats) for potentially abusing power. But the controversy sure won’t expedite the housing debate either. Looks like that July 4 timeline for passing the bill just got tougher to meet.