UPDATE 1-U.S. senators push bill to scrap mortgage firms Fannie, Freddie

Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:08pm EDT
 
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* Lawmakers aim to jump-start debate on housing finance revamp

* Mortgage firms would be liquidated within five years

* Government would offer a catastrophic loan backstop

* New agency would collect fees to cover its costs

By Margaret Chadbourn

WASHINGTON, June 25 (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Tuesday introduced a bill to abolish Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and replace them with a government reinsurer of mortgage securities that would backstop private capital in a crisis.

The U.S. government seized the mortgage finance firms in 2008 to rescue them from insolvency, spending a total of $187.5 billion to keep them afloat. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which charge lenders a fee in return for guaranteeing principal and interest on mortgages, are now posting record profits.

Under the bill, which is being led by Tennessee Republican Bob Corker and Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, the two companies would be liquidated within five years. The legislation would provide for government reinsurance that would kick in only once private creditors had shouldered large losses.

"It lessens the footprint of the federal government in housing and winds down Fannie and Freddie," Corker said at a news conference. "But at the same time it keeps the housing finance industry in a liquid state."   Continued...