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Issa: House Should Investigate HAMP Failure To Stem Foreclosures

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WASHINGTON -- The top two members of the House panel that will be the most closely watched in the 112th Congress continued to spar over the ongoing foreclosure crisis on Friday.

The top-ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, told The Huffington Post on Wednesday that he had approached new Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to request a hearing on the crisis, but that Issa wanted to merely focus on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, ignoring the role of the banks.

But Issa has bigger plans: He also wants to focus on the Obama administration's failure to curb the wave of foreclosures, he said in a response to Cummings that was provided to HuffPost on Friday.

"The failure of the Administration's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) to even come close to meeting its stated goal of helping 'as many as three to four million financially struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure by modifying loans to a level that is affordable for borrowers now and sustainable over the long term,' is deeply troubling," Issa said in the statement.

HAMP has, indeed, been largely a failure, partly because the administration opposed congressional efforts to pass "cramdown" -- which would allow homeowners to renegotiate mortgages in bankruptcy and give banks greater incentive to negotiate modifications.

The back-and-forth over the foreclosure crisis follows a fight Issa and Cummings had over Issa's request that corporations tell the committee what regulations they'd like to see repealed in order for them to begin hiring. Cummings said that the companies would merely "dust off" their longstanding list of deregulatory demands and expressed concerns about Issa's request. Issa responded that Cummings should express the same concern about President Barack Obama hiring a business-friendly chief of staff.

Cummings won election to the oversight committee's ranking-member position promising to aggressively challenge Issa if his investigations turned partisan.

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