House Democrats Aim to "Rescue" Over Half a Million Homeowners

Those wonderful Democrats, battling both Bush and the foreclosure crisis: "Hoping to throw a rescue line to at least half a million families in danger of losing their homes..."

The Business section wade into campaign politics in a Friday story from Capitol Hill by David Herszenhorn, "Homeowner Rescue Bill Passed Despite Veto Threat."

Herszenhorn portrayed a plan passed by House Democrats as saving at least half a million families from foreclosure, if only Bush and the Republicans would cooperate. While Republicans eventually got their say as to why they think the bill would "provide a safety net for irresponsibility," the lead had a certain slant toward the Democratic "rescue line."

Hoping to throw a rescue line to at least half a million families in danger of losing their homes, the House on Thursday approved legislation that seeks to broadly expand the availability of mortgages insured by the federal government.

The House vote, 266 to 154, defied a veto threat by President Bush and was cast mostly along party lines, with only 39 Republicans supporting the bill. Not a single Democrat voted against the measure, and the Republican votes in favor came predominantly from lawmakers in states at greatest risk of foreclosures.

Exerting a little political pressure of his own, Herszenhorn matched the votes of Republican congressmen to the foreclosure risk in their respective states before even going into the details of what the bill actually does:

Among the Republicans in favor were Nevada's two Republican representatives, seven Republicans from Florida, five from Michigan, four from Pennsylvania, three from North Carolina and two each from Ohio and Illinois.

With the White House staunchly opposed to the plan, and Senate Republicans appearing increasingly reluctant to sign on, the bill's leading champion, Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, conceded that its future was in doubt. "I don't know what it means for the final situation," Mr. Frank said after the vote. "I can't predict it."

What remains unclear is whether the Bush administration will negotiate with Congress on efforts to help homeowners refinance into more stable and affordable loans, or if, in an election year, it ultimately wants to deny Democrats any credit if the plan were to work.