Housing Bill Procedural Vote Passes

The Senate has passed a procedural motion to begin debate on Housing legislation by a near unanimous vote of 94 (Y) to 1 (N). You can view the Roll Call Vote here. Why the overwhelming vote of support? Leadership within both parties finally reached an agreement today on a bipartisan Housing bill that they can both support.

The Crypt has some of the details:

In a surprise announcement, Senate leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.), cast aside the procedural politics and agreed to bring a foreclosure prevention bill to the Senate floor. Both parties have agreed to move ahead and allow the bill to come to the floor, with each side offering amendments as long as they relate to housing.

The breakthrough is extraordinary if only because the Senate has been so accustomed to gridlock on major issues like Iraq and foreign intelligence. But clearly, senators from both side of the aisle realized that legislating is better than political rhetoric as the housing market continues in a meltdown.

McConnell and Reid have agreed to allow a bipartisan bill, negotiated by Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama.

Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) reiterated that he will not allow any amendment to be considered if it is not related to Housing. He has been concerned that Republican members would try to offer amendments to permanently extend tax breaks such as the Bush 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.

Due to some tax provisions within the Senate’s bill, its contents must be inserted into a House bill (in this case, H.R. 3221). Legislation dealing with taxes must originate, per the Constitution, in the House of Representatives. That is the reason for the Majority Leader’s concern that Republican members would see this bill as an opportunity to legislate on tax provisions.

Update: It is now being reported that members will bring a draft outline of the bipartisan proposal to the Senate floor tomorrow. It may be introduced as early as 11 a.m. central time. The rest of today’s session will likely consist of only general speeches.

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