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Mortgage-Finance Bill Should Be Done in 3-4 Months, Bachus Says

U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus, the Alabama Republican who leads the House Financial Services Committee, said Congress should move quickly on a bill to overhaul U.S.-run mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“I think we ought to approve legislation within three to four months,” Bachus said today in a CNBC television interview. “The market needs certainty.”

Bachus’s committee is scheduled to hold a hearing today on the Obama administration’s proposal for weaning the two firms and the rest of the $11 trillion U.S. mortgage market from dependence on the federal government.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, in remarks prepared for the hearing, called on lawmakers to weigh trade-offs needed to shore up the housing-finance system and prevent the need for taxpayer-funded bailouts.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been sustained by $154 billion in Treasury funds since they were seized and placed under federal conservatorship during the 2008 credit crisis. Fannie Mae, based in Washington, and Freddie Mac of McLean, Virginia, own or guarantee more than half of U.S. mortgages.

Congress must pass legislation to overhaul mortgage finance within two years, Geithner said in his statement. Without action, the housing market would remain vulnerable to flaws that led to the collapse of the mortgage market in 2008, he said in testimony obtained by Bloomberg News.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Mattingly in Washington at pmattingly@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lawrence Roberts at lroberts13@bloomberg.net

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