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Titus withdraws amendment to mortgage aid bill

WASHINGTON — Discretion being the better part of valor, Rep. Dina Titus on the House floor early today withdrew an amendment to a mortgage aid bill after it ran into a problem with a powerful committee leader.

Titus, D-Nev., had prepared her first floor amendment as a House freshman. It would have required that loan servicers getting payments through the HOPE for Homeowners mortgage assistance program to notify all “at risk homeowners” that they might be eligible for help.

Titus said she was responding to floods of calls from constituents in mortgage-distressed Las Vegas wondering whether they qualify. Others may have no idea, she said.

But Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, challenged the amendment as too broad, suggesting it could pose a burden on the loan companies.

Titus knew that opposition from the chairman would kill her amendment if she insisted on a vote. She took Frank up on his offer to help fine-tune the legislation, and add it to the mortgage bill later in conference committee.

In so doing, Titus said Frank suggested it might be expanded to require lenders to improve their communications with troubled homeowners across a broader array of housing programs.

In a dialogue with Frank on the House floor, Titus agreed to withdraw the amendment.

“I think he’s right,” Titus said afterward. “We want to broaden it to other programs that are available, but sharpen it so we have a clearer definition of who would be notified so it would not be an undue burden on the servicers.

“I am here to get things accomplished,” Titus said. “If it means working behind the scenes and getting this amendment in conference, that is more important than having something with my name on it.”

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