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House minority whip explains his vote against housing plan

Rep. Roy Blunt argues that the plan’s provisions don’t minimize the potential for the same kind of housing problems in the future.

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Southwest Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt spoke at the Monitor Breakfast on Thursday.

Robert Frazier

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Rep. Roy Blunt, the second-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, sharply criticizes the rescue plan for the housing industry that President Bush says he would sign into law, argues that energy prices will become an even more dominant political issue, and plays down predictions that his party will lose more seats in Congress.

At a Monitor-sponsored breakfast with reporters Thursday, the House minority whip explained why he voted against a far-reaching housing plan whose passage had been urged by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Just 45 of the 199 Republicans in the House voted for the measure, which cleared the House Wednesday by a vote of 272 to 152. It would give the Treasury Department greatly strengthened powers to help prevent the collapse of mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“We missed a huge opportunity to really restructure these [government-sponsored enterprises] in a way that ... would minimize the potential for this same kind of problem in the future. I don’t think we did that,” said Representative Blunt, who represents Missouri’s seventh Congressional District. “We have actually almost ensured the same kind of problem will come again sometime in the future.”

Blunt and many of his fellow Republicans objected to the nearly $4 billion the legislation included for grants that would enable local governments to buy and refurbish foreclosed homes. A new housing finance regulator the bill establishes also “could have been a lot stronger,” Blunt said.

At Thursday morning’s session with reporters, Blunt also spoke about energy. “The gas crisis is about to turn into an energy crisis [in] the next six months. Some of it will happen before the election,” he said. House Republicans rolled out a new energy plan Wednesday that includes a call for additional drilling offshore and in the Arctic Coastal Plain.

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