Senate lawmakers are close to a deal that would expand a government program to insure hundreds of billions of dollars in refinanced mortgages, top lawmakers said Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reports.


"We're very close," Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.) said on Fox Business. "We're very, very close."


The deal, if finalized later in the day, could breathe new life into congressional efforts to stabilize the rocky housing sector. The bill would also overhaul supervision of mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks, an issue that has been a priority for the Bush administration for several years. If the fragile talks collapse, it would become extremely difficult for Congress to move forward with any housing policy package this year.


Staff members on the Senate Banking Committee have discussed legislation for weeks, and as recently as last week talks appeared to be faltering. But staff members for Sen. Dodd and the panel's ranking Republican, Richard Shelby of Alabama, broke major ground Wednesday and continued talking until 2 a.m. Thursday.


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