Washington, D.C. A massive foreclosure rescue bill cleared a key Senate test Tuesday by an overwhelming margin, with Democrats and Republicans both eager to claim election-year credit for helping hard-pressed homeowners.
The mortgage aid plan would let the Federal Housing Administration back $300 billion in new, cheaper home loans for an estimated 400,000 distressed borrowers who otherwise would be considered too financially risky to qualify for government-insured, fixed-rate loans.
An 83-9 vote put the plan on track for Senate passage as early as today, but President Bush is threatening a veto, and Democrats are fighting each other over key details. Those challenges will probably delay any final deal until mid-July.
The bill advanced as separate reports underscored rising economic anxiety: Consumer confidence slid to its lowest level in more than 16 years, and closely watched indices showed a continuing decline in home values.