Murkowski puts riders in spending bill Dems decry poison pills

first_imgPhoto: Committee homepageU.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski had a chance to flex some legislative muscle today. As chair of an Appropriations subcommittee, Murkowski writes the legislation that sends money to the Department of the Interior, the EPA and the Forest Service and tells them how to spend it. Her subcommittee passed that bill today. Murkowski also added several of her favorite environmental policy changes, which Senate Democrats are calling “poison pills.”Download AudioMurkowski says she’ll never stop trying to get a road for King Cove, to link the community to an all-weather airport. The senator says her bill authorizes a land trade to allow for a road through a portion of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.“I recognize the need to protect the environment, but recognize it should not come at the expense of jeopardizing the lives of those I represent,” she said when her subcommittee met this morning.The land trade is an example of a rider – a policy change a lawmaker slips into another bill, sometimes completely unrelated. Another of Murkowski’s Alaska riders would stop the feds from imposing stricter predator-hunting rules in the state’s national wildlife refuges.Her $32-billion bill has several big national riders, like one that would block an EPA rule defining which waters are subject to the Clean Water Act. Another halts a stream-buffer protection rule that mine advocates say would kill coal mining in Alaska and around the country.Murkowski says her bill pinches EPA’s regulatory budget, in areas where she says the agency has overstepped its bounds.“Several program areas that have issued controversial rules that are currently blocked in court are reduced,” she said, reading from a prepared statement, “because I believe it is more important to provide resources to programs that yield tangible results in improving the environment instead of funding more lawyers and bureaucrats to draft rules of questionable legality and dubious environmental benefit.”The top Democrat on her subcommittee, Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, says he likes that the bill increases money for drinking water infrastructure and the Indian Health Service. Still, Udall says he can’t support it.“We’re not prepared to gut environmental rules as the price of getting spending bills passed,” he said.Among the riders Udall counts as a poison pill are changes to environmental rules in the Tongass National Forest, in Southeast Alaska. Exactly what the bill says on that is unknown. Murkowski did not make the document public, but she and Udall issued summaries. The bill itself is scheduled for release on Thursday, when it goes before the full Senate Appropriations committee. Udall says that’s when he’ll try to remove the parts he doesn’t like.last_img read more

Refis Rebounding…But Barely

first_img Share Home purchase originations are expected to boom next year, with an October MBA report forecasting $1.2 trillion in purchase originations for 2018 (a 7.3 percent increase over 2017). But while there’s a lot of chatter about the shift to a purchase market, now there’s some good news for refis. Today the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported a slight uptick in refinances during Q3 2017.According to the FHFA’s Q3 Refinance Report, Q3 2017 saw more than 362,934 refinances completed, as compared to 356,707 in Q2 2017. It’s still a definite drop compared to last year, however. During Q3 2016, the total number of refinances completed was nearly double at 626,948.The new Refinance Report also revealed that nearly 7,000 loans—6,913 to be precise—were refinanced through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). The HARP loan program was initiated by the FHFA in March 2009, designed to help struggling homeowners who are current on their payment but who have negative equity. HARP has handled 3,477,717 refinances since the program began.However, there are plenty of homeowners out there who aren’t making use of HARP, but could. According to FHFA, 118,705 borrowers could benefit financially from refinancing with HARP as of June 30, 2017. On average, FHFA estimates these borrowers could save $191 per month by taking advantage of the program. More than 60 percent of those eligible borrowers reside in Illinois, Puerto Rico, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Maryland, or Alabama. This map tracks the number of HARP-eligible borrowers, sorted by state, metropolitan statistical area, and zip code.In order to be eligible for a HARP refinance, a borrower must:have a remaining balance of $50,000 or more on their mortgagehave a remaining term on their loan of greater than 10 yearshave a mortgage interest rate at least 1.5 percent higher than current market rates.You can see the full Q3 2017 FHFA Refinance Report by clicking here. in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, Headlines, journal, Market Studies, News Refis Rebounding…But Barelycenter_img FHFA HARP q3 2017 Refinance Report Refinancing 2017-11-17 David Wharton November 17, 2017 590 Views last_img read more